ECAASU 2009: Distinct Worlds, One Vision
February 27-March 1, 2009
41 students plus 3 staff from the University of Massachusetts Amherst attended the East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference (ECAASU) at Rutgers University. This trip to ECAASU was made possible by Byron Bullock, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life and Jacqueline Pinn, the Director of Office of Programs and Services for ALANA Services (OPSAS) and the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center (YKCC). This group of eager students boarded the bus on February 27 and arrived at the Hyatt Hotel, 15-20 minutes away from Rutgers. After 5 hours drive (we hit the traffic in GW), still full of spirit, we joined 1200 students from 90 different schools and colleges all over the United States who converged together to meet and get to know one another at ECAASU. The conference encouraged educational dialogue and networking among students. The UMass Amherst student delegation was one of the biggest, if not the largest, group that attended the conference. UPENN won the bid for ECAASU 2010 and this group is thinking of attending this conference, too.
WHAT IS ECAASU? The East Coast Asian American Student Union conference is the premiere Asian American collegiate conference in the United States. Founded in 1977, this annual conference brings together influential student leaders from major universities.
Today, ECAASU is at the forefront of the Asian-American movement. Its reach has spread far beyond the east coast, encouraging educational dialogue and networking amongst students from all over the country. With valuable workshops, notable speakers, and recognized performers, the conference attracts the brightest and most involved of student leaders. ECAASU is rapidly gaining more recognition every year as more schools attend and more students participate.
This year, from February 27th to March 1st, Rutgers University - New Brunswick/Piscataway was proud to continue this growing tradition. With over 8,000 students from ten diverse Asian cultures, as well as 50 Asian organizations on campus, Rutgers University is a prime location for a unique, innovative, and memorable conference.
The theme of ECAASU 2009 at Rutgers University is “DISTINCT WORLDS, ONE VISION”. Asian culture is strong. It is deeply rooted. It has not waivered for hundreds of thousands of years. There are a multitude of them, each with their own distinguishing characteristics that we should be proud of and embrace. Yes, even though it is our strength, it is also our weakness. We are so focused upon our distinct worlds that we fail to recognize that even within all of these distinguishing characteristics, there is one thing that we have in common.
We all strive for peace, for preservation of our culture, for the respect for our ancestors, and we all do so through similar means. Here in America, whether you went to Chinese Sunday School or Indian Sunday School, we all spent our mornings reading from religious texts. As we grow older and enter the real world, we all face the same diamond ceilings, but we also all hold the same perspective on how to break them.
We all share the same vision. A vision that leads to success in a myriad of fields, through parallel methods, and a success that we all desire just as strongly. Perhaps we are all rooted in different areas, perhaps our identity is firmly drawn, but where we all want to go and how we all want to achieve it is something that we share. We may be from distinct worlds, but we do have one vision, and embracing that once vision is the only way that we can achieve what we want to. (retrieved from http://ecaasu2009.org/vision.html)
Here are some thoughts from our students about their ECAASU experience:
“ I was not entirely sure that this would be a conference I would want to go to I have never really identified as being anything other than an American South Asian or East Indian so I was not confident in how comfortable I would be with addressing the not so familiar side of my identity: I am an adopted South Asian, raised in Cambridge, MA and became a young adult at the University. “
- Daniel Hikes, BDIC 2010
“Before going to ECAASU, I did not think that workshops and the planned events were going to be interesting at all, and was only concerned with exploring the city and the after parties…but after one workshop, I was hooked”. Casey Yuen, ME 2012
“I’d never had the opportunity to participate in an Asian American Conference in the past. Prior to arrival, I was nervous about the large number of colleges that were being represented and whether I would be able to get along with strangers. I also had very little idea about what the workshops, career fair and mixers were going to be like, so I didn’t know how to mentally prepare myself for the conference.”
- Ruchie Munshie, 2012
Post Conference Reflections:
The most important things I took back from this experience was that even though Asians maybe considered a minority, they have made great contributions to the American society, and they deserved to be better represented in this country, and such a movement can be led by a strong group of motivated and passionate students, who will undoubtedly grow to become future leaders.”
- Lisa Lum, 2012
“My weekend at ECAASU 2009 hosted by Rutgers University was fun and enlightening. The workshops I attended were very informative about issues concerning communities and the issues of Asian American entertainers facing many struggles in the entertainment industry.” Philip Chen, 2011
“I found it most interesting to understand other’s experiences and how they defined their identities through their own socialization. I enjoyed learning the definition of “distinct worlds, one vision.”
- Daniel Hikes, BDIC 2009
"ECAASU taught me that in order to change how people view us, we must first change how we view ourselves. ECAASU taught me that I can do anything; choose a career, excel in it, then make a difference with it.”
- Casey Yuen, NE 2012
“The bus ride to and from ECAASU was enjoyable because it allowed UMASS students to bond with each other though they didn’t know each other before. It also helped unify the students together to show an awesome and greater presence at ECAASU as the largest student delegation”.
- Christina Kwan, Psych 2010
“One common topic among everyone on our bus ride back together was about what next year’s conference will be like. The students from UPenn had told everyone they would be the official host for ECAASU next year. So as soon as the conference ended Saturday night, everyone was already hyped up for the upcoming one, which is barely a year away. I’m so excited about the future conferences due to my satisfaction with this year’s conference”.
- Mandip Kaur, 2012