For the past two months, student leaders and volunteers from North and South have been preparing a series of events for May’s Pan-Asian American History Month, a celebration intended to recognize the history, achievements, and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders.
For the past two months, student leaders and volunteers from North and South have been preparing a series of events for May’s Pan-Asian American History Month, a celebration intended to recognize the history, achievements, and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders. Following a similar event in February for Black History Month, Language Arts teacher and PAAH Month organizer Jessica Wong wanted to emphasize the importance of listening, uplifting, and learning from Pan-Asian leaders, activists, and communities.
With that, the major event planned for the month is an extensive panel of Pan-Asian speakers spanning a myriad of professions — sports, medicine, liberal arts, musicians, social media influencers, and many more. Below is a preview of WW-P’s first Pan-Asian American History Month speaker panel.
Sara Porritt is the first of many panelists speaking with WW-P students this May. Porritt is the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Omnicom Media Group, a global media and marketing company. In her free time, Sara hosts her podcast Hear Us Roar, a show involving “Inspired conversations with fearless Asian women about how ideas and passions can ignite transformative journeys” according to its page. In her session with WW-P students, Porritt will discuss her job as a diversity and inclusion officer, speak on cultural influences and misconceptions in the workplace, and impart personal experiences on her life growing up as an Asian American.
Susie Reynolds Reece
Susie Reynolds Reece carries a number of titles: a published author, a national public speaker, and a violence prevention strategist and consultant. In her session, Reece will talk about all of these achievements, and what it is what like pursuing her dreams as a young Korean American. Additionally, she will examine the stigma around mental health, specifically in the Asian community, and how this applies to educational environments.
Joshua Fan, a basketball skills coach and the Head of Digital Strategy for NBA basketball star Jeremy Lin, has come a long way since graduating from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In his panel, Fan will talk about what it takes to work with the NBA and athletics industry, the importance of representation in sports, and his life during the pandemic. He also looks to offer career and personal advice for younger generations and answer questions posed by WW-P students about being an NBA Skill Development Coach.
Jessica Man is a PhD candidate and Master of Arts graduate from UCLA. Pursuing interests in Asian American studies, new and emerging media, techno-orientalism, and American millenarianism in popular culture, Man has fully immersed herself in cultural studies over the course of her college education. Join Man in her panel, where she speaks about studying history and culture and the importance of cultural awareness in students.
Ruth Chan is a full-time writer and illustrator of children’s books. Having grown up in both Canada and China, Chan had never expected to study art and education years later at Wellesley College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For almost a decade after graduating, the author had focused on serving youth and families in underserved communities. Soon after, Chan made her transition into literature, publishing fan-favorites Georgie & Friends and The Alpactory. In this session, learn about Chan’s work over the years and why representation in children’s media is important.
Amit Majmudar is an Indian American novelist and poet recognized for his unique and fascinating portrayals of Asian characters in Young Adult literature. Having amassed a number of features and awards throughout his career, the author is among Puffin Books India’s most celebrated writers. In his session, Majmudar will discuss the difficulties of being a POC writer, his path in pursuing writing professionally, and the importance of diversity in literature.
John Hsu is a member of the Edison Democratic Municipal Committee and a chair of Our Revolution Middlesex. Following his work in numerous local campaigns, Hsu will be giving valuable insights on being an Asian American politician. In this session, Hsu will answer questions about political responses to racial hate crimes, his personal journey into politics, and current events and popular culture.
Richard On is the lead guitarist in the American rock band Of A Revolution (O.A.R). Performing on nine full-length albums and traveling across the globe for multiple world tours, Richard On has gathered plentiful experiences from being in the music industry. In his panel, On reflects on these experiences and discusses his journey into music and why Asian American representation is so important.
Dr. Grace Tien
Grace Tien, a Wellesley and Princeton graduate and postdoctoral scholar of Princeton’s Center on Contemporary China. Throughout her college career, she studied sociology, and is now researching cultural and religious ethics in business management. Tien was recently awarded the 2020 best student paper prize in economic sociology and entrepreneurship by The American Sociological Association. With help from Princeton’s Sociology Department, she is teaching her own class on the subject at The Keller Center for Entrepreneurship. In Dr. Tien’s session, learn more about Princeton’s Asian American community, entrepreneurship, and her experience of what it is like studying sociology professionally.
Dr. David Chen
Dr. David Chen is a physician-scientist for the Institute for Research on Equity and Community Health (IREACH) and the clinical lead for Empowering Victims of Lived Violence (EVOLV). Chen also spends his time as a board member for the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence and an advisor to the Wilmington Community Advisory Council. In his session, Dr. Chen will be answering questions about healthcare disparities, his work in studying healthcare utilization and disparities in community violence and health-related issues, and his experience as an esteemed Asian American in his profession.
Barbara Yasui is a 3rd generation Japanese American and educational consultant for Densho. Densho’s aim is to preserve, educate, and share the story of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II. In her session, Yasui will tell the story of this bleak period in American history through photographs, video clips, and the experiences of her own family.
Amol Sinha, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union in New Jersey, is an avid policy advocate for criminal justice reform, immigrants’ rights, and education reform. A college professor for constitutional law, civil rights, and media law, Sinha has made a profound impact wherever he’s gone. Now serving as the President of the South Asian Bar Association of New York, Sinha hopes to share his experience working with the Civil Liberties Union and social reform to students aspiring to enter this field.
& Nehal Tenany
Annika Sharma and Nehal Tenany are hosts of the podcast The Woke Desi, a show that “explores the topics South Asians have only whispered about until now, lending itself to a generation unafraid of being tenacious and bold.” From current events to popular culture to cultural stigmas, The Woke Desi has created a space meant to empower and relate to members of the Desi community. Sharma and Tenany, in their session with WW-P students, intend to share their experiences with being Indian-American influencers and explain why media representation is important to them.