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Speaker celebrates Asian cultures

Nov. 9, 1999



'What does it mean to be Asian?' asked JuJu Chang, a New York-based correspondent for ABC News.

The Asian Student Association (ASA) celebrated and recognized the Asian cultures throughout the Baylor campus with the Asian cross-cultural festival, held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Chang spoke to an audience of 126 in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center. Her speech was titled 'The Model Minority Myth.'

'Discipline and hard work is part of being Asian-American,' Chang said. 'The Asian culture is often invisible, and the stereotypes that exist are destructive.'

To understand a different culture is to define the identity of that culture. The identity of a culture is usually defined by its customs, background, history, heritage, geographical location and political system. Stereotypes can be defined as the 'image' associated with the concept of a particular culture and nation.

'To have the label as a model minority is to be flawless,' Chang said. 'To live by the label of model minority is to distort reality.'

The media of a particular country decide how to portray different cultures. Chang said to squeak like a mouse is better than being silent, and unless Asians speak up and show their pride in their culture, the stereotypes will be continued.

'The stereotypes are invented by white directors,' Chang said. 'Unless we squeak, we will not be able to get a place in society.'

The danger in stereotypes of different cultures is that people who are not familiar with other cultures have a tendency to believe the stereotypes and judge based on the 'knowledge' they receive.

'We need to beat down our own stereotypes and those of others. We must not reject culture but expand our view of the world and other cultures,' Chang said.

After the speech, several performances were given by students to show the culture of their country.

'The performance was given to show the Baylor campus the talent of the minority organizations,' said Lillienne Yoon, a Brookshire senior and vice president of ASA.

'The lecture by JuJu Chang was given to discuss Asian stereotypes and to open the eyes of what is shadowed in the various cultures.'

The event was concluded with a variety of cultural skits, dance performances and fashion exhibits by Baylor students and a question-and-answer session with Chang.

The Asian cross-cultural festival started in 1998 to raise money for scholarships that benefit the ASA members in pursuit of a Baylor education.

'I thought that the festival was very well done and with much fanfare,' said Michael Paik, a Castro Valley, Calif., sophomore. 'JuJu Chang was a very nice individual, and her speech was very compelling. I received a sense of pride from everything, knowing how much culture that Asia and its inhabitants have to offer.'