APIA-U Leadership Summit a Success!

This blog post is submitted by the Asian American Student Union (AASU). Our goal for this event was to educate the Asian American community at UW about social justice issues at the local and national level and to learn how to be leaders of our communities through leadership and advocacy skills.  

After Asian Pacific American Council (APAC)—the group funding AASU—was defunded by the University, AASU struggled to stay active, especially in terms of membership. AASU had only regained its’ strength again within recent years. On a large campus like UW-Madison, it is easy for Asian American students to get mixed into the international student population. Additionally, the predominantly White campus may engulf the Asian American community and so much of the community becomes invisible. AASU’s goal is to bring together an Asian America where students can become educated and aware about social justice issues within the community. Also, the group builds a community through social events and collaboration. Asian & Pacific Islander American University (APIA-U) Leadership Training allowed AASU to become leaders and advocates for their community through team building strategies.


Students gathered at the AASU event.

The event took plance on Saturday November 16, 2013 from 8:30am-5:00pm in Ingraham Hall, Room 206. It was sponsored by State Farm Insurance and Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) and Asian American Student Union (AASU) for UW undergraduate and graduate students.

APIA-U Leadership Training, sponsored by State Farm Insurance, began with breakfast and registration at 8:30am. After a get-to-know you ice breaker game, OCA facilitators, Mary Dynne and Suresh, directed student’s attention to a historical Asian American timeline dating back to 1790. The goal of the activity was for students to identify prominent historical events and discuss the importance of remembering the Asian American history. During reflection, one student found the activity to be upsetting because of the number of devastating events, like the murder of Vincent Chin. But another student described the activity as “hopeful” indicating that a handful of Asian American individuals were beginning to create visibility for the community, such as the first Hmong American woman senator, Minnesota State Senator Mee Moua.

The group watched a documentary titled, “Vincent Who,” where Vincent Chin was murdered by two White individuals who were angry and convinced that he was a “Jap” and “stealing their jobs.” Students reflected on Vincent Chin’s death as a prime era of Asian American movement for justice and equality during a time of harsh racism and discrimination against Asian Americans in the U.S. The film was followed by lunch facilitated by State Farm who presented about post-grad insurance planning opportunities.


Students participates in many group activities during the retreat.

The afternoon consisted of a Leadership Animals activity where students were separated into Lions, Eagles, Turtles, and Rabbits according to their leadership quality traits. The goal was for each animal to sell a car to another animal based on the leadership qualities. In the end, students learned that each animal conveyed different leadership characteristics and a variety of qualities—or leadership animals—are needed in order to achieve the best outcome. The afternoon ended with an advocacy activity where groups analyzed case studies based on true events. The goal was to identify the issue and create an action plan for improvement.

The training closed with each trainee sharing a take-away and a commitment they will keep. The exciting and educational training was a great opportunity that challenged AASU to be strong leaders and advocates for the concerns they are most passionate about. The training was also a refreshing reminder of a strong Asian America on campus who is committed to addressing social justice issues in their community and who will no longer be invisible in a White dominated society.

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