Choate Attends Asian American Conference

Two weeks ago on Sunday, April 9, a group of eight Choate students and one faculty member, Ms. Yuxin Xie, traveled to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts for the Seventh Annual Asian American Footsteps Conference. The purpose of the conference was to provide students of Asian descent with a safe space to explore and discuss issues relating to their experience. Phillips Academy organized the inaugural conference in 2011, and since then, it has been hosted at a variety of other schools. This was Choate’s first time attending the conference.

The conference, consisting of 24 schools and over 280 students, lasted from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. It began with a keynote speech, and the rest of the day consisted of different workshops that students could attend.        

The keynote speech was delivered by Ms. Tina Chang, an American poet, teacher, and editor. In 2010, she was named Poet Laureate of Brooklyn. In her speech, she talked of her experience as an Asian American growing up, and she discussed activism as both an Asian American and a person of color.

The workshops, 13 in total, ranged from the mixed heritage experience to Asian sexuality. Students had three blocks and were able to attend one workshop during each time. Ms. Xie said, “The different workshops basically discussed issues that were relevant to students.”

The conference was a means for some students to reexamine their culture. “In my time in England and America, I took my Asian heritage for granted,” said Michael Li ’18. “This was an interesting experience for me to dive back into my roots.”

The conference discussed ways in which, moving forward, the attendees could build on the critical conversations that they had at the conference. Ms. Xie described her conversation with other faculty from various schools regarding the form of leadership that independent private schools usually promote. She said, “We were trying to think of ways so that leadership doesn’t have to be such a visible position; we should also acknowledge students who are leading in a way that is not obvious too.”

Ms. Xie added, “We are planning to try to go for the subsequent years because I think it’s a great way for a lot of these students to get a place to talk about these things and discuss issues that they may not feel that they can talk about here at Choate.”

Sebastian Chang ’18 agreed. Chang said, “I’ve never been in an environment with so many Asian people before and so many people who sympathize with that experience.”

When asked if he would go again, Chang enthusiastically said yes. “It’s not that hard to give that kind of answer, because obviously the workshops change, but the people stay the same, and there are new people too, so you get to continue to rebuild that experience. You get to continue learning and interacting with that community.”

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