The Asian/Asian American Affinity Group provides community and awareness

The new Asian/Asian American Affinity group, led by Novia Nguyen ’21 and Sissi Wang ’24, brings awareness to Asian/Asian American issues. “We wish to show that we are not just a ‘model minority’ nor the stereotypes that society labels us with,” stated Sissi.          

The idea of the affinity group was started by Sissi, who explained, “I came up with the idea of starting an Asian Affinity group because I felt like, as an Asian American myself, there wasn’t much awareness around this group despite so many Asian Americans and Asian boarding students at Dana.” She was inspired by a presentation on Asian Americans given at Dana Hall last year by Ms. Vivian S. Wu Wong, a teacher at Milton Academy. 

Sissi reached out to Novia, who was also very passionate about educating others about these issues, as well as cultivating a community and connection between those participating in the affinity group.

Novia and Sissi are working towards creating a safe space where those in the affinity group can openly speak out on Asian/Asian American issues. “When I was in SHADES, a BIPOC Affinity Group, I felt as though I was the only one addressing Asian and Asian American issues,”  said Novia. “Also, there is a lack of social media and American media coverage on Asian and Asian American issues, so what I’ve been trying to do is to form a group where I can unite Asian and Asian Americans together. Even though we come from different countries, cultures, and languages, that is what makes our group so special. All of us coming together and sharing our differences, yet we still share an identity as Asians.” 

Additionally, Sissi highlighted that, “it’s a space where we can all feel comfortable to share our vulnerabilities, talk about current events and stereotypes that pertain to our group, and explore our culture and our history in America.” 

Novia, a senior, wishes to leave behind a place to educate participants as well as those outside the affinity group, as well as advocating for more Asian and Asian American issues, saying, “we tend to hear about other BIPOC issues in the media and in Dana’s emails sent by the administrators, and I want that to be a common thread for anti-Asian and Asian American racism. … So when the influx in anti-Asian hate crimes happened because of COVID, I wished there was a space created by the Administration saying, ‘if you’re part of this group, come talk to us if you need any support,’ in the same way they do for other BIPOC issues.”

Sissi, Novia, and the rest of the Asian/Asian American affinity group are working on a petition to make Lunar New Year a school holiday. “We believe that petitioning for a day off for the holiday would help the administration understand how to support the Asian and Asian-American students and faculty,” Novia said. “While students who celebrate Lunar New Year can simply take the day off on their own, having the school take the day off shows that the entire community respects and honors their fellow Asian and Asian-American students’ and faculty’s heritage and holiday. Additionally, we hope that the administration will treat our holiday as any other holiday that we take off.”

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