Asian-American students work to end stereotypes

“I am not a terrorist.” “I am not good at math.” “I am not bad at sports.” “I am not a bad driver.”

Last week, the Asian American Student Association (AASA) set out to break stereotypes across Tech’s campus through their “I am not” campaign. The AASA stopped students on Skiles and asked them to think of a stereotype they had recently been a victim of.

Answers ranged from “I am not a bad hacker” to “I am not ruining your idea of marriage,” but AASA believes that each student came away feeling more empowered.

The “I am not” campaign was inspired by Harvard’s “I am Harvard” campaign but AASA hoped to increase the effect by reaching out to all students, not just Asian-American or African-American students, who could be a victim of stereotypes.

The “I am not” campaign is part of a larger Asian Awareness Month which is being run by AASA. Although Asian Awareness Month is typically in May, because Tech students are out of school then, AASA is celebrating the month in March and April.

AASA is hoping to continue the “I am not” campaign and may even take the best of the stereotype pictures and display them in the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons (CULC).

For instance, Anthony Tsou’s, second-year CS Major and Vice President of AASA, favorite was Grace Halverson, second-year STC major, who said, “I am not artistic because I am Asian. I am artistic because I am passionate.”

“This campaign was a really good opportunity for me, actually. I was able to see stereotypes I had not even considered. It was an interesting  to see what campus has perspective wise,” said Tsou.

According to Tsou, a large part of Asian Awareness Month is break Tech students out of their “bubble” and show how welcoming and diverse the Asian American culture can be.

“We wanted to let campus enjoy Asian-American culture while showcasing different aspects of it. Students sometimes view the Asian American community as a bubble, but we always welcome others,” said Tsou.

The Asian Awareness Student Association is an umbrella organization that oversees, interacts and helps with other Asian focused clubs and organizations around campus. Some of these organizations include the Chinese Friendship Association, Japan Society and the Taiwanese American Student Association.

During Asian Awareness Month, each organization under AASA chooses an event to put on. AASA then helps then publicize and prepare for their events. This year, Asian Awareness Month is larger than ever. Some events include an interracial adoptee speaker who spoke of his experiences, a wanton and noodle making event, and a “Culture Shock” dance put on by the Filipino Student Association.

Tsou is especially looking forward to Night Market, which is customary in many Asian countries but rarely seen in the U.S.

Night Market involves many vendors on the street late at night. When people are hungry, they can simply go out into the street to find a cheap food.

Tech’s Night Market, which is being hosted by the Taiwanese-American Student Association, will be at the Campanile and will host many different vendors from different Asian cultures.

One of the reasons Tsou is especially excited this year’s Asian Awareness Month is the many intercollegiate activities, including events with Georgia State University and Emory University.

While many of the events are fun in nature, Tsou maintains that the main goal is to challenge stereotypes among the Tech community.