Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) kicked off Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month this May with its annual JubilAsian celebration. The community gathered in the Louis Room on April 30 for an evening of pan-Asian food, music, and reflection.
The night began with opening remarks from MSA Assistant Director Christine Munteanu and Douglas Ishii, a visiting assistant professor in the Asian American Studies program. Both speakers encouraged contemplation Asian American history, especially in light of the May anniversaries of the first Japanese immigrants’ arrival in the United States and Chinese laborers’ completion of the transcontinental railroad.
Keynote speaker Tuyet Le shared her experience as a disabled Vietnamese refugee who now works to empower the Asian American community in her role as the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. She said more than one million Asian Americans are undocumented, and they face danger and uncertainty at every turn.
“Some [Asian American immigrants] come smuggled on ships, some overstay visas, and others are victims of unscrupulous scammers,” Le said, “paying tens of thousands for promises of citizenship but instead are given worthless papers. We don’t talk openly about these issues in our community, yet these stories are waiting to be heard.”
Medill junior Alex Furuya, who served on the JubilAsian planning committee, said that the intimate event “allowed us to get closer to each other and Tuyet Le.”
To close off the night, attendees enjoyed dinner and performances from the TrebleMakers, an East-Asian a capella group, and Brown Sugar, a South-Asian a capella group.
The events will continue throughout the month with more great speakers, performances, and discussion groups — look out for the APAC spring speaker, Rad Asian Girls, on May 7 and the Pinoy Show: Kai School Musical on May 13 — to encourage ongoing celebration of Asian American culture.