Stepping Into Those BIG Shoes

As senior year is slowly yet quickly approaching, I had to think a lot about how I wanted to spend senior year, in particular my involvement in the API community. I had to start thinking about this back in spring quarter when elections were being held. While I want to be involved in the API community, I know I am not always the most aware of my limits to balance everything that I care about, whether it be API-related, tech, violin, or friends. A close friend urged me to do as little as possible, but that also didn’t feel right. As a senior, I feel the need to step into the big shoes in some manner. The choice I decided to make was to become the Asian American New Student Orientation Committee (AANSOC) Coordinator. I think there are a number of reasons why this in particular has caused me to believe I made the right choice. First off, it is a commitment during the summer and at the beginning of the school year, meaning it won’t be in conflict with other things I care about. Secondly, the freshmen year experience is a very fond memory for me. I think a lot about my freshmen year as I am planning for this, and I know for a fact that my freshmen year was purely shaped by the people I first made contact with in the beginning of the year. I love the excitement that freshmen bring to Stanford, and it reminds me of all that I have to be so grateful for and to make the most of what I can at this school. Through this role, I just hope that I am able to show the freshmen what an impact this community has had on me, and I hope that I am able to be approached throughout the year as one of the first faces they get to see 🙂 So here below is my letter that was sent to the frosh halfway through the summer. AKA my abridged testimony of the API community. Enjoy.

Dear Member of the Amazing Class of 2020,

Welcome to Stanford! My name is Da Eun Kim ’17, and I am the 2016 Community Coordinator for the Asian American New Student Orientation Committee (AANSOC). First off, I am ecstatic to welcome you to the Asian American community here at Stanford! The Asian American community has been the backbone to my life here at Stanford, and I want to share a bit of my experience with this community I now call my family.

To be honest, I did not think I would have so much involvement in the Asian American community during my time at Stanford. Coming from a school with a predominantly East Asian population, I had thought I knew everything there was to know about being “Asian American.” However, right from the start, I decided to join the Asian American Sibling (AASIB) Program, where incoming freshmen (“lils”) get paired with a group of upperclassmen (“bigs”) who became my first mentors and friends at Stanford. These upperclassmen were also incredibly involved members of the Asian American community, and through their influence, I found myself diving further into this community for the past three years. Not only have I been welcomed with open arms and developed a sense of belonging and self-confidence, but I have also learned a great deal about the Asian American community at Stanford and beyond.

Back in high school, the model minority was a concept that friends and family took pride in. Here, I’ve realized that the model minority myth can harm many South-east Asian communities such as those who may identify as Vietnamese, Hmong, and Cambodian, where families have come to America as refugees fleeing from Civil War in their home countries with no education. Even East Asian families in SF Chinatown where families live in one-room apartments for decades are hurt by this perpetuating stereotype. In addition, I’ve also grown to better address the concerns of misrepresentation of Asian Americans in media and to fight for better representation. And while there is urgency in better vocalizing the unique Asian American experience and bettering the future, Stanford is a place where I can learn more about and celebrate my heritage and history, as it informs our values in family and culture. Whether it is viewing the diversity of the Asian American community through cultural performances and special guests, sitting down and talking about issues that do affect all Asian Americans, or learning about the history of being Asian in America, this community has become a home, encouraging me to continue to explore my identity and to embrace it. And I hope that during your time at Stanford, you will be able to find your family in the Asian American community!

I would now like to invite you to join us at all of our AANSOC events during your New Student Orientation and at the beginning of Fall quarter! The events we put on, including the Community and We Are Family event, showcase the various aspects of the Stanford Asian American community. A calendar of these events and their respective descriptions are included in this packet. AANSOC events are free and open to all students, so please join us! At the We Are Family event, the AASIB program will also be doing their big SibFam reveal! I really believe that through the AASIB program, you will be able to find upperclassmen who share similar interests, both academic and non-academic. I have seen SibFams be one of the biggest positive influences for freshmen in introducing them to communities that they themselves later become leaders in. My bigs graduated last year, but I am still lucky to be able to keep in touch with them and seek their advice from anything Stanford-related to post-Stanford-related.

If you would like to learn more about the Asian American community before arriving, please explore our A3C website (a3c.stanford.edu) and our Facebook page (facebook.com/StanfordA3C).  On our website, you can learn about programs hosted by the A3C and the various student groups of the Asian American community.  You can also check out our Facebook page for event postings during the school year.

I cannot wait to meet you! Please say hi if you see me around, and you are more than welcome to shoot me any thoughts and questions. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and welcome to the family!

 

Sincerely,

Da Eun Kim

B.S. Candidate in Symbolic Systems | Class of 2017

M.S. Candidate in Computer Science | Class of 2018

Asian American New Student Orientation Committee (AANSOC) Chair

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Stepping Into Those BIG Shoes

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