University Asian community, allies come together for a cause

The “Culture Showcase for a Change” event on Saturday was hosted by the Asian American Student Association and Filipino Student Association. The event celebrated Asian heritage and denounced Asian hate. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami
 
By Ashley A. Williams

The “Culture Showcase for a Change” event on Saturday was hosted by the Asian American Student Association and Filipino Student Association. The event celebrated Asian heritage and denounced Asian hate. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami
 

University Asian community, allies come together for a cause

By Ashley A. Williams
The “Culture Showcase for a Change” event—hosted by the Asian American Student Association and Filipino Student Association—celebrated Asian heritage, denounced Asian hate, and called for support of Hate is a Virus, a nonprofit group that is fighting against xenophobia and racism in the United States.

When Emilie Villaverde became aware of the March 16 spa shooting in Atlanta that left eight people dead—including six Asian women—she immediately wanted to work even harder to bring awareness to her community. 

“I am so full of emotion,” said Villaverde, a senior majoring in communications and psychology and president of the Filipino Student Association (FSA). “Bao Duong [president of the Asian American Student Association (AASA)] and I have been working very hard these last couple of weeks, and to see it all being showcased is a really good feeling.” 

On Saturday, AASA and the FSA hosted “Culture Showcase for a Change” to not only share the beauty of Asian cultures with the University community, but to raise awareness of the issues the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community face. Lauren Colaco, AASA vice president, and Tram Huynh, a member of FSA, were the masters of ceremonies for the evening celebration. 

Because the AASA had its annual Lunar New Year celebration postponed earlier this semester attributable to a rise in COVID-19 cases, Duong and Villaverde decided it was important to merge that event with one that would raise awareness of the recent anti-Asian hatred that their community has been facing since the start of the pandemic. 

President Julio Frenk and Patricia A. Whitely, senior vice president for student affairs, both attended the event to reaffirm their commitment to the AAPI community on campus. Each offered opening remarks. 

Whitely and Frenk
President Frenk and Whitely, senior vice president for student affairs, offered remarks during Saturday's event. 

“Tonight, we want to shine a light on our AAPI community and the incredible talent that they contribute to the University and the fact that we all stand with them,” said Frenk. “When we stand together, Hurricanes are unstoppable.” 

“I am deeply saddened by the continuous acts of violence against members of our AAPI community,” said Whitely. “You are a valuable member of our community and make our U a wonderful place.” 

Several dozen students and faculty and staff members gathered on the Lakeside Patio of the Coral Gables Campus to show their support for the Asian community. 

“With all the recent cases being reported, we felt like we needed something for the soul—something to help with the healing process,” said Huynh, a junior studying biochemistry and psychology from Vietnam. “I’m also glad that the people here today are not just Asian. In the audience, we have people from the Black community, the Latino, the white, and so much more, everyone is here to enjoy the Asian culture.” 

Colaco, a junior majoring in biology and psychology from Tampa, said seeing leadership present meant a great deal to both student groups. 

“Their acknowledgment that this is a hate crime means a lot,” she said. “This is a deep, systemic problem that is going on and I’m so glad that they showed up for us.”

Landon Coles, Student Government president-elect, also attended the event to show his support.

“This event was so timely to support our Asian student communities,” Coles said. “This showcase of culture is so important to raise awareness and increase cultural sensitivity and we must remain vigilant in supporting our Asian student communities all day, every day.” 

Speakers included Joshua Ho of the Miami-Dade County Asian American Advisory Board and Winnie Tang from the Organization of Chinese Association—Asian Pacific American Advocates South Florida, each took to the stage to call for change. The gathering also included vocal performances and traditional dances. 

The group encouraged participants to donate to Hate is a Virus, a nonprofit organization that is fighting against xenophobia and racism in the United States. It also handed out a guide filled with local and national resources to audience members. The event lasted about two hours. 

In continuation of the efforts being made by the University of Miami community to keep raising awareness of the issues the Asian community is facing, on Wednesday, March 31 at 7 p.m., a Courageous Conversations series event will be hosted by the Office of the President and Student Government. The online event, #StopAsianHate: Raising Awareness and Building Community, is designed to foster inclusion and belonging by providing members of the University community the platform to voice their perspectives. Register here.