Asian Student Alliance celebrates Asian and Asian American culture on campus

Pitt%E2%80%99s+Asian+Student+Alliance+is+a+student+organization+that+spreads+awareness+of+and+celebrates+Asian+culture+by+hosting+events+that+further+promote+the+social%2C+cultural+and+political+aspects+of+Asians+and+Asian+Americans.+Pictured+is+the+ASA%E2%80%99s+executive+board.

Image courtesy of Asian Student Alliance

Pitt’s Asian Student Alliance is a student organization that spreads awareness of and celebrates Asian culture by hosting events that further promote the social, cultural and political aspects of Asians and Asian Americans. Pictured is the ASA’s executive board.

By Leanna Chae, For The Pitt News

Karen Enomoto said while going to a predominantly white university like Pitt, it’s important to have a sense of community for minority groups that feel unrepresented on campus. Enomoto, vice president of external affairs for the Asian Student Alliance, said the ASA gave her the chance to meet other Asian American students while also providing a voice to Asian American and Pacific Islander students.

“ASA provided me with a space to meet other Asian American students from all different backgrounds and majors,” Enomoto, a senior politics and philosophy and history double major, said. “Given that we go to a predominantly white institution, it is important to form strong coalitions with other students of color and use our platform to uplift social causes.”

Pitt’s Asian Student Alliance is a student organization that spreads awareness of and celebrates Asian culture by hosting events that promote the social, cultural and political aspects of Asians and Asian Americans. ASA also functions as the integrated group for many other organizations such as the Chinese American Student Association, Filipino Students Association, Japanese Student Association, Korean Student Association and Vietnamese Student Association.

After shifting to virtual methods in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASA is transitioning back to in-person activities for the new academic year. Evan Kim, ASA’s vice president of finance, said opening up their meeting and event options outside of Zoom is an exciting step.

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“The transition has been going well, and it’s been really nice to be able to see everyone in person and plan to have in-person events again,” Kim, a junior business major, said. “All of us on board are excited to finally have in-person events again so we can build a stronger relationship with our community and be able to serve the community more.” 

ASA events range from advocacy events that shed light on hate crimes against Asian Americans to fashion shows that celebrate traditional Asian and Asian American clothing. William Han, ASA’s vice president of internal affairs, said the organization plans to continue these types of cultural events, along with others like the ASA Big Little program. In this program, members are matched with other members as each other’s “Big” or “Little,” to support each other in the organization and on campus.

“We plan on having a balanced mix of both social and advocacy events to better reach out to our community. Some events that we have planned include our continuation of the ASA Big Little program, AAPI Advocacy Summit, and guest speaker events,” Han, a senior nutritional science major, said.

According to Kim, ASA student leaders are excited to go back to in-person meetings, where they are able to further encourage safe and productive discussions and meet new people.

“This year, our board is excited to bring back events that we were unable to do online last year,” Kim said. “Some of our biggest events have been on pause due to COVID, but as we bring back in-person events, we hope to bring a safe place for our community to get to know one another. ASA also works to provide a safe environment where people feel comfortable talking about deeper topics.”

Kim said ASA is facilitating conversations on many topics, such as Anti-Asian violence and the Taiwanese LGBT+ Movement — helping students become more educated on key issues in the larger community.

ASA also hosts a celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander youth during the month of May and ongoing discussions on mixed-race identity. Enomoto said the organization encourages everyone to get more involved by joining ASA committees such as the advocacy, fundraising, public relations or media committees.

“Join a committee — I joined the Advocacy Committee my first year, and that is where I met some of my closest friends in the organization and on campus,” Enomoto said. “Committees also give you a closer look at how our organization operates and allows you to make your mark on campus.”

Not only is attending events another great way to get involved with the ASA, but according to Kim, the organization utilizes social media to help new members connect with board members and other club members.

“Come out to our events — we love seeing both new and old faces at our events and would love to help anyone new to ASA get more involved,” Kim said, “Follow us on our Instagram @pitt_asa for updates and announcements on all our events we have planned. Also, please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone on board, and we would love to help you get plugged in.” 

According to Han, ASA wants to spread cultural awareness on campus and beyond. Han said by hosting these events, ASA does not shy away from difficult conversations and celebrates Asian and Asian American traditions. 

Han said ASA and their umbrella organizations play an integral role in connecting students of diverse backgrounds at Pitt. According to Han, the ASA provides AAPI students a voice and a sense of community on campus.

“Although at times, it can be very stressful, all the hard work pays off in the end after seeing how much we as an executive board of college students can positively impact the lives of others in the Asian community,” Han said. “I feel honored that those in the general body of ASA elected me to represent them as their Vice President of Internal Affairs. This has been a great opportunity for me to give back to the organization that provided me with a sense of belonging.”