Reminiscing on 4 Years at Stanford: Letter to Roommate

Can confirm this was pretty accurate 🙂

Dear Roommate,

The next four years will be our journey of getting to know each other, as we spend literally every moment of the day together. One question I must ask: do you like peaches? Because I love them! You may agree that not only are they delish, but they’re also very healthy, with lots of fibers to clean your digestive system, plenty of vitamin A to improve night vision, and water essential to living!

Why am I talking about peaches? Well, the peach is nature’s work, and nature is not perfect all the time. You never know how the peach will taste until you take the first bite. Even with the first bite, the next bites are drastically different and unique. A general idea of the peach from touch and smell is not enough to determine the succulence of the peach until you actually taste it. Similarly, you can watch me from afar and make small talk with me, but you’ll be quite surprised by your second, third, and even fourth impressions of me. On the outside, I appear timid and passive; in reality, I’m not afraid to raise my voice. I’m in love with my violin, but if you’re annoyed at my practicing at 1 o’clock in the morning—like when you take that sour bite—I’ll respect your need for sleep and stop. I myself am a really deep sleeper who rustles in her blanket, but if at dawn you whisper to me that you want to go running on campus, I will be out of my bed and changed in no time; you’ll be as surprised as when juice from the seemingly dry peach starts to run down your chin. Surely, these will be the sudden jerks and turns in your otherwise smooth journey of getting to know me, like a peach tasting sweet in the first bite but bitter in the second. In order to get a better sense of the peach’s taste, continue to “take a bite or two” into my character. Like peach fuzz, I will take every effort to make you feel homely and embrace our companionship. I look forward to an adventurous four years.

Fondly,

Da Eun Kim

Roll Sound, Roll Camera, Action

I should start off by saying that filmmaking was never something I gave a thought. I never even really thought of filmmaking as a career through high school and beginning of college. And then when I would people with their super fancy cameras, I just thought it was like violin: an incredibly expensive art. How could I ever try this out?

I would say that throughout high school, YouTube began to have an increasingly prominent influence in my life. It starts in 7th grade with Nigahiga when he uploaded his first 4 initial videos. They were so silly and looking back at them, the quality was definitely no good; but they were engaging. Then comes the era of Wong Fu. Watching Strangers, Again and How We Never Met helped this high schooler in puberty and the feels. I will always remember how relatable these videos felt (even though I had never been in a relationship at the time) and it won’t be until much later that I realize why Wong Fu was so attractive: I was seeing people like me, Asian American, on the screen. Something that had never happened in mainstream Hollywood movies in 2009.

This influence will only continue to grow as I go through college. Starting senior year of high school, I started watching beauty guru videos. This started from exploring Frmheadtotoe’s channel after seeing her star in Wong Fu’s Away We Happened series. As someone who was always told only “stupid” girls and girls who didn’t take school seriously would wear makeup, makeup was an unexplored domain and little did I know that even if I wanted to wear makeup, my monolids made it difficult to follow current beauty trends. Frmheadtotoe showed me that door, always giving tricks on how to use monolids to our advantage and promoting self-confidence and self-care. Several years past, I’m now watching channels like clothesencounters, ilikeweylie, Tina Yong, and meejmuse. I’ve expanded my repertoire of Asian beauty gurus, no doubt, but I find myself now watching less of their makeup tutorials; I’m watching their Q&As, their vlogs, their motivational talks and the reason these are so attractive to me is because I am more confident that I’m hearing from people who have more similar identities and backgrounds to me.

Along the way, I’m seeing the YouTube community surface, and these content creators will oftentimes reference their subscribers and their fans. YouTube allows them to connect with their subscribers and develop a more intimate relationship with them unlike the mainstream “celebrities” that would always be surrounded by security and paparazzi. As I see more collabs between creators happening, I can’t help but yearn for a very similar supportive community around me, and it’s amazing that so many Asian American YouTubers are coming together to put on more big-scale projects and to increase the exposure of Asian Americans on media. I mean, I first saw Randall Park in Wong Fu’s Too Fast short and now he’s the lead actor in Fresh Off the Boat! So much advancement and exposure has been achieved in the API community, and I really do believe that YouTube has played an integral role.

In 2015, two friends and I took a spontaneous trip down to LA to attend the Jubilee Project conference. I’ve always admired Jubilee Project in their heartfelt and sometimes heart-wrenching videos (recently they partnered with NBC Asian America to make videos surrounding the Asian American identity). Jubilee Project and film has nothing to do with what I’m studying or doing in academics, which is engineering. But something about the community and the life lessons I could learn from them urged me to go (I very much believe this was God’s doing, and experiences like these continue to tie me to my faith). I already have a post on this entire event, and it continues to be an influence on my life. I’ve even put up the pamphlet from the event on my wall next to my Hamilton playbill.

But I left the event with some nostalgia, yearning for that specific Asian American YouTube community. As I delved deeper into the Asian American community at Stanford, I became engrossed in learning about Asian American issues such as representation in media, and the need to have greater cross cultural, inter group communication. This comes side by side with the greater awareness of politics and current events around me. Before I knew it, I started adapting a more political, activist attitude. AND at the same time, I was starting to see the YouTube community open up even more about touchy subjects like these. Here is when BuzzFeed comes into the picture. They aim to have viral videos, and they post a ridiculous number of videos everyday on YouTube. And from the hundreds of videos I’ve seen, I’ve noticed that a good number of them have involved in encouraging self-confidence and looking inwards at one’s own identity, whether it be regarding race, body image, gender, sexuality, etc. I’m sure that BuzzFeed videos will often leave their viewers empowered to be loving and accepting of the diversity of identities. This, on top of stellar animated movies such as Inside Out and Zootopia that are so timely and culturally nuanced, makes me really believe in media’s power in our society, especially film.

After the Jubilee Project conference, I realized it was high time for me to just dabble in filmmaking. I took a film production class fall 2015, and it was amazing! Six assignments, and not all of them necessarily had us pulling out a camera to film, but the ones that did, I was very proud of how they turned out. (Though I must say, my repertoire in KDramas is helping me greatly in finding good instrumentals to play in the background of films).

This film production class was just a taste of what I find enjoyable. I kept pushing off the thought of doing filmmaking because 1) I’ve never even talked about filmmaking with anyone, especially my family and I had no idea what my family would think, 2) I thought I just liked filmmaking for the community I saw on YouTube, and surely I can find that elsewhere, and 3) I never get a break all year long, going from school to internships, back to school. But little did I know what would happen in 2017.

Fall 2016, I applied to a d.school class called Movie Design as a means of wanting to revisit the experience I had in the film production class, as well as to have a quick fun class in my schedule. However, at the first day of class, within 30 minutes I felt overwhelmed. This class was often referred to as a sprint (also think of red bold italic), only running for 4 days, but guaranteed to be hella intense. Even while I was going to school, I was so anxious about these impending four days where I’d just be filming and editing, editing, editing.

But it happened! Let me tell you, I was dead exhausted, but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. While filming, I found myself bursting with ideas of what sort of dynamic and body language the actresses should use when confronting each other. When editing, part of me so wanted to take a break and let other members of my team take over, but the other part of me was exhilarated. I felt my creative juices flowing, as if they had been plugged up in the time I was coding my systems assignment the week before. I would say it was a very similar happy high that I would get in my rehearsals when Echappe Quartet was still a thing. I definitely feel that I have been trying for so long to find something collaborative and creative, from musicals to UI/UX design, but maybe it’s filmmaking that has hit the sweet spot. Even on top of that, this short sprint of a class…it’s like it kept telling me “filmmaking shouldn’t be hard. Anyone should be able to be creative and make compelling films that evoke strong personal messages to all of us.” The limit shouldn’t be the equipment you have or that Final Cut Pro software you can’t afford; the limit should be your will.

Usually, I can be critical of classes and the way that they’re taught, but the ending of the class left me on cloud 9. As director/editor, I found that even with lack of experience in filmmaking, there was a general respect from the teaching staff and the peers of everyone’s opinions. When I look back, I also felt this way in my film production class. And this really isn’t something to be taken lightly! My professor last year had a film that was nominated for an Oscar, and from Movie Design, we had a double Oscar-winning producer and the designer of the d.school space! When I think about how our teaching staff came to our shooting location and gave us hands-on tips, I can’t help but feel so grateful. Oftentimes in movies, we just think about the people on the screen, and we take for granted the people who come up with the storyline as well as give the film its ambience and vibe through edits and angled shots. I find this mutual respect rare and precious. I also find myself feeling so proud and happy with the work that is produced, and I’m so proud of everyone who was in this class and spent hours at night filming and changing the storyline of their plots. Okay, CS makes me want to pull my hair out and while there’s a huge sense of relief and accomplishment when a program is finally fleshed out, it’s so different form filmmaking where I feel that I can really admire each inch, each nook and cranny of the final product. It’s honestly really disappointing to think about how technical and creative sides of products stand so separately. For me, it’s always been a dream to work at Pixar. But being a software engineer at Pixar isn’t going to mean I have any say in the story aspect nor is it going to mean I get to let my creative juices out in that way. As a result, I am experiencing dissonance between the work I challenge myself to do with the work I’ve found myself dabbling in and enjoying. But, I digress. Anyone at Stanford who is looking into filmmaking even as a fun class (nothing to do with pursuit of career), I would so highly recommend FILMPROD 106 & ME 207.

After I showed someone my final product from the d.school class, she immediately asked me, “Is filmmaking something you’re interested in pursuing?” As of right now, I can’t give her a sure “yes.” It’s such a new idea that my mind is entertaining, but my interest has been piqued for sure. Even to the point where I’m considering applying for the JP Fellowship over the summer. It’ll conflict with my internship but we’ll see what happens if this does pan out 🙂

So what is the point of this post? I think if anything, I want this to be a reminder of how the sweat blood and tears of filmmaking… I found to be worth in the past few times I’ve gotten to do so. I’ll keep thinking about media and its impact, and I’ll keep thinking about what media technology can do for the good of society. I hope I can be critical of film and media and its emerging technologies such as VR/AR (getting a taste of this in my communications VR class as well as watching Black Mirror eep!). But in the meantime, here’s the result of those blood, sweat, and tears from a few weeks ago!

#NewYearsFears

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-11-53-42-pmNew Year. 2017. As if it’s something we never experience. New Year’s resolutions were never my thing, but I’ve been in a place where I am trying so hard to reflect but nothing is coming out of it. I’ve wondered, is this just me being complacent and being too comfortable with life passing by? Does this mean I’m not being ambitious anymore, or am I stuck in fear?

I’ve always been an avid follower of Wong Fu, and I even had the pleasure of meeting them when they came to Stanford a year and a half ago for the screening of their movie Everything Before Us. Phil Wang has also been an inspiration to me in the way that he is so thoughtful, both figuratively and literally. He is thoughtful in the sense that he is very kind and thinks of others, but he is literally full of thoughts. I dunno, is it too crazy of me to think that there are moments in life when you find yourself resonating with someone you have very little to no connection with?

Anyway, Phil just uploaded this video about New Year’s Resolutions. He presents the challenge of actually writing down our fears and looking back on them at the end of 2017 to see how those fears panned out. Honestly, I think this is a brilliant idea because the hope is that we can look back on those 12 months and find ourselves empowered in having been able to move past those fears. He said it’s a personal thing and we don’t need to publicize, but I see this as a time to be brutally honest with myself about my fears. Man, they have never been consolidated all into a list, so here goes nothing:

My 2017 Fears

  1. I’m scared that CS 110 will destroy me/make me feel insecure about my abilities to be a competent software engineer (much like CS 107 made me feel). I still find myself oftentimes paralyzed from starting CS assignments because they seem so daunting. It’s never much of a problem once I get knee-deep in, but the feet have to go in first. It’s also not a pleasant feeling for the deadline to be like a flame under your bottom.
  2. I’m really excited for 2 of my classes for the winter, a filmmaking class and a UX design class. These are areas I am semi-serious about pursuing, and there is a fear that they won’t pan out to be what I expect and I’ll be back in square 1 of “what the hell am I doing with my life?”
  3. I’m scared I won’t be in an important position for an organization I’m involved in, and I’m scared that if I am in that position, that I won’t meet my goals and get a lot of hate for it.
  4. I’m scared that my family will continue to adamantly refuse my relationship. I’m telling myself to give it time, but it’s brought a lot of tears and heartaches tbh… I’m tearing up right now even writing that. I wish they could see the potential of good and happiness it brings into my life rather than the list of differences in background that amount to how communication will be terrible in the long run.
  5. I’m scared that I have too high of expectations for my internship this summer after having had an amazing experience in NYC summer 2016.
  6. I’m scared that I will continue to body shame myself. On top of that, I’m scared that I will be motivated for vanity reasons rather than longevity and health reasons.
  7. I’m scared that as a grad student in the fall, I will feel lonelier than ever.
  8. I’m scared that I will fail at managing money lol.
  9. I’m scared that I will never feel comfortable enough to voice my own political opinions on social media for fear of being not well-read enough.
  10. Along the same lines, I’m scared that I will continue to be unable to stand up for my beliefs and opinions, especially the unpopular ones.

That’s it for now 🙂

Lulls in Life

As I have been bouncing through senior year, I’ve done one significant thing differently: I have not been journaling. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, because I’m not storing precious memories and am not proactively reflecting. But I would at least like to take the chance to reflect right now because I feel like I have miles and miles of unsearched territory in life all around me, and I’m not moving in any direction.

It’s shocking to think that once school starts, it’s so easy to get into the groove. The groove, I’ve found, can mean one of two things: either you got your shit together and feel hella productive, or you’re blindly going through meaningless motions. I find myself in the latter pool at the moment.

The core questions I always go back to:

  1. Why am I here? Why am I at Stanford, and why am I on this Earth?
  2. Why am I taking these classes? What’s the point of these classes and how important are they to my life?
  3. Do I find myself feeling fulfilled from my day to day life?
  4. Why do I always feel so tired and low in energy when I have so much life to live?

I will leave this [incomplete].

Precious Summer Thoughts

September 2 notes the conclusion of the internship.

September 3 notes the flight over that other coast on the west.

Let this post be an attempt to disentangle the cobweb in my brain that are my thoughts from this summer. Let’s go.

When in NY…

Undeniably summer 2016 will be remembered as the summer I ventured outside of my bubble at Stanford and the Bay into NYC. Far away from many friends and family that could have supported me at any point. Honestly, it was liberating. Can you imagine the fun and games two girls can have living all by themselves in the middle of Manhattan? The weekends were ours to plan, without any sort of obligation like family outings and appointments to attend. There were the occasional visits from friends, but those weren’t seen as duties, more like opportunities to explore cool places in New York that we ourselves haven’t been to!

But of course, there are the not-so-great parts. Like, how NYC is indeed so cramped that garbage bags lie in heaps stacked on top of each other, awaiting their ride to the dumpster. It’s a foul smell, as you can imagine. Or like, how Times Square would really be a lovely place with its lights and all if it didn’t take more than a few minutes to cross one simple intersection. Pedestrians (cough cough, tourists) need to have their own transportation system over there. Or like how, the city is small enough to be walked around in, but there’s this thing called humidity, very foreign to a Californian like me (tbh, didn’t ever really think of myself as Californian, but the humidity was a deterrence to many opportunities to exploring the city). You literally cannot walk for more than 5 minutes without breaking a sweat. How there are people walking around in suits and heels, I shall never know.

Honestly, though? I absolutely fell in love with New York City. It had become a bit of a fond childhood memory for me, for the times I would drive down with my family to stand in line in front of the Coca-Cola advertisement for a Broadway ticket. To come back now and explore at my will and actually want to learn more about the city and its history…is an opportunity that I am incredibly thankful for. Of course, not to mention I paid 10 dollars to watch Hamilton from the front row. Now, that’s a kicker.

Return to Google

Many of my friends know that this is my second summer interning at Google. Last summer, I was an Engineering Practicum intern based in the Mountain View office. As a 19-year-old who had just decided on a major, that summer was, needless to say, overwhelming. I left in September, with the image of tech companies being too daunting and complex to navigate. I left feeling shaky and incredibly insecure about my seemingly rash decision to join the CS pipeline and go into tech. Exactly a year later, I walked out of the Google NYC office, feeling so sad and so appreciative of everything that I had learned, and knowing that one day I want to come back.

Software Engineering Woes

My transition into college definitely took an unexpected turn. I came in, thinking I wanted to become a doctor, having excelled in math and chemistry. In sophomore year, I was unsure if I was considering CS for the sake of doing CS like everyone else, and in order to be the odd one out, I decided to major in Symbolic Systems. As I took more psychology, linguistics, and philosophy courses over the years, I’ve come to really embrace the humanities and love them. As for the technical side, well…numbers became to scare me. I had lost that fire of wanting to work through problems endlessly. And as last summer came to the end, I was eager to make a transition into product management, anything other than coding. To cut a long story short, many conversations with my wonderful recruiter about my future steps led to this open email I sent her:

I think I realized a lot of things when I was talking to you today. The inherent question was never really which place to go work at; it was PM or SWE. I like to go about things logically, and so I thought “I did SWE last year, and I need a diversity of experience. So I should do PM.” That’s what I said to you today. PM was always so intriguing to me, and the idea of PM for a summer felt like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I also thought on the flip side, I wasn’t choosing Google for the right reasons, the reasons ranging from the repercussions to the familiarity when I’m someone who advocates for pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. When I signed Google a month ago, I don’t think I had really been convinced; I think it was mainly out of fear and a feeble statement of “I should go and give it another chance since it wasn’t the best last summer.” But what you hinted at today actually gave me clarity on what my true fear was: that my technical foundation isn’t strong. The truth is, I think design questions are so exciting and the idea of owning a product is so grandiose and almost dreamy for an internship. Yet I have definitely been insecure about my technical abilities, and it hasn’t been easy admitting that. I usually would attribute it to how I’m just not nearly as interested in it as product management, but that really is a cop-out reason. Because I know that…as a PM, you have to love your engineers and you have to still have the vigor and enthusiasm for tech problems like an engineer. Today, I think I’m better able to realize why I should and am going to Google next summer: it’s to challenge my insecurities and fears, to get outside of my comfort zone of having the flexibility of shying away from software engineering whenever possible.

As this summer came closer, I was really anticipating whether I would disappoint as much as I felt that I had before. Would I be properly prepared for these twelve weeks? What if I didn’t really know as much as I believed myself to?

The thing is, with CS…it’s so unpredictable how long it will take to solve the problems. You try your best, but for all you know, one bug could take an hour or it could take a week. Sometimes, that bug ends up being a one-line fix. Not exactly the most satisfaction one can find. With CS, you have to be patient. Because ultimately, the beauty of computer science is that computer science was completely man-made. That means no matter how flawed it can be, there is always a solution. We can bend CS to our will and we can utilize it to create fantastic and useful products. With CS, you can basically be a wizard.

I’ve regained my confidence in my abilities to be an engineer. I know that if I set my mind on doing solving a problem, I will be able to solve it. Software engineering is a path that I can definitely see myself taking, and that puts my heart at ease.

Don’t underestimate the team.

Freshmen year, my friends dubbed me the social butterfly. I loved meeting new people and hearing their life journeys. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by wonderful people who uplift me and motivate me to be the most compassionate and loving person that I can be. Navigating the workplace was a new challenge. I would rarely speak up last year, and due to my wariness of my technical abilities, I was hesitant to ask questions. I really had no commonalities to share with my team and they were a quiet bunch, too.

During that summer, I would go to these organized chats with women employees at Google. Each time, they would emphasize that their top priority when choosing a place to work is the team. I honestly couldn’t understand why the team was more important than the work or the product. And of course comes this summer. I found myself surrounded by a different lot than my previous internship. Young, many married with babies, mostly men, mostly white. You would think I would feel even more alienated, but I was much more comfortable being around them. I loved listening to the jokes about gaming and parenting being tossed around, and I was always greeted with friendly smiles at the office. My team definitely knew how to work really hard and have a good time. I bothered the heck out of my host with questions, but he never complained; he would always jump at the opportunity to help me out, and forever I will be thankful! I hope that later on, I can foster that community wherever I go.

But I still care about the product.

UGH, the product I worked on this summer was so fantastic and enjoyable to tinker with. I so wish I could talk more about it, but alas, as it is unreleased currently, I must restrain myself. But it’s a bit of a tickle and a giggle, to know that I have an itching secret. This experience was much more visual and interactive than others I have worked on, and that was pretty exhilarating in and of itself. To be able to make the slightest change in code, and to see it happen and change in front of you. Sighs, it totally reaffirms my want to be involved in a product’s decision-making and usability.

Moving forward, the question still remains: software engineering? Product management? User experience? I see all three of these options to still be very viable. I need to do much more exploration. Whenever I think it’s too late for me to explore a new avenue, I need to remind myself that realistically I will only regret not trying and it’s never too late.

~

This is the majority of what I have to say for now. Summer 2016  will always be near and dear to my heart. It was everything I could have asked for, even more than everything.

Woman in Tech

  1. How has your Google internship informed your experience as a woman in tech?

A week into my Google internship, I came to a realization: in our team of 30-40 people, there are only four women. Only two of those women (including me) are technical. This realization also came with perplexity. Why is it just that the observation feels drastic and my experience doesn’t reflect that? I’ve found that my co-workers always treat me with respect and I felt immediately welcomed. There is a tremendous support network in Google for women in tech, as I quickly noticed by attending GWE and by talking to my mentor about statistics around gender disparity. I’ve been incredibly humbled and grateful to be surrounded by a supportive community, but I’ve learned that the issue really doesn’t lie in outright sexist behavior or mistreatment (while that is definitely an issue elsewhere); the issue is the lack of opportunities presented to women in tech, the lack of resources and exposure for women to reach the goals that they would like. I am aware that I have received a lot of love and privilege through this Google internship and I would hope that other women in tech could have these same opportunities.

As a woman in tech, Google has readily equipped me with the tools to better myself as an engineer and as an individual working in industry by gaining self-confidence. I’ve also learned that these endeavors do not stop with me. When an issue such as closing the gender gap is so complex where it touches areas from education equity to portrayals on media, I think it is important for any of us with more opportunities to help those around us (and even those from other communities) and to expose tech to them. I think tech has so many far-reaching applications that it can positively impact, and I want to give those tools to as many people as possible.

 

  1. What do you hope to gain by attending GHC? How do you plan to share your GHC experience with your community (including your school community) after the conference?

Aside from the summer internships, I am always surrounded by people my age who are going through similar struggles of finding their passion and preparing themselves to navigate the real world. I see GHC as an opportunity to not only find a community of women in tech that encourages and uplifts one another, but also as an opportunity to hear testimonials from women in tech who are older and much wiser than I am. There is so much to learn from people who have been walking this world longer than I have, and I think mentorship is so valuable in providing a diversity of perspective that will better inform the decisions that I choose to make later on. I hope to build relationships with both peers and mentors during my time at GHC and bring back the lessons and stories that I learn to all of my communities, whether it be the community where tech is underappreciated or the community that advocates for women in tech but has lost sight of why it is important to have a support system for women in tech. I’ve become an avid blogger the past few years, and I see storytelling as one of the most powerful forms of conveyance and cathartic forms of communicating. I hope that in my last year in college, I will be able to bring in testimonials and even people that I may have encountered at GHC to tell their story in a less structured manner. Honestly, I feel strange trying to turn this into a concrete actionable item, but at the very least I can guarantee that the bonds and relationships I form at this conference will be beneficial to me and those around me to learn more about the glass ceiling, the challenges, and the good with being women in tech.

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