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Students and Faculty Attend Asian American Footsteps Conference

Students and Faculty Attend Asian American Footsteps Conference

Students and Faculty Attend Asian American Footsteps Conference


Community members at St. Paul’s School attend a workshop led by Sia Reddy ’26 and Ella Yu ’24.

Contributing Writer

April 27, 2023

Albert Chen '26

At this year’s Asian American Footsteps Conference, more than 450 students from 26 schools traveled to St. Paul’s School in Concord, CT for a day-long program of workshops and social activities. This year’s theme was “Building Bridges,” a topic which encouraged students to form connections with one another.

This year’s gathering was the first in-person conference in four years. It opened with a performance by St. Paul’s orchestra, which performed “One Summer Day” by Joe Hisaishi, highlighting the hopes that members of the Pan-Asian community have for a better future.

After the opening ceremony, students took part in three workshops, many of which were student-led. The workshops generated conversations on the unique challenges that Pan-Asian people experience. Ella Yu ’24, one of the heads of the school’s Pan-Asian Affinity group, said, “For many students, navigating their identity can be challenging, especially if their school does not offer any resources, affinity spaces, or open discussions about Asian identity. This conference is a safe space for us to explore different aspects of our identity, learn about our cultural heritage, and feel a sense of pride in our background.”

Several Hotchkiss students hosted workshops. William Yee ’25 and Parth Jain ’24 led a workshop entitled, “It’s Okay Not to be Okay: Masculine Norms in Pan-Asian Cultures,” which worked to offer a space for male-identifying students to discuss masculinities in Pan-Asian cultures. William Yee ’25 said, “The meeting helped everyone better contextualize and understand the intricacies of masculinity.”

Mr. Pierre Yoo, the school’s Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), attended Yee and Jain’s workshop. He said, “They did a fantastic job leading the discussion; there were so many special and deep connections made. I helped them prepare for this workshop, but when it was game-time, they stepped up and curated a safe space about their male identity, which we don’t do often enough.”

Sia Reddy ’26 and Ella Yu ’24 led “Thriving Asians: Mental Wellness Expanded,” which explored ways in which Pan-Asian people can use their cultural practices and values to support their mental health. Reddy said, “It was awesome to witness everyone be so open and vulnerable about discussing mental health and how quickly we formed deep bonds in just one workshop.”

The AAFC was founded in 2011 to allow Pan Asian students to explore issues specific to their experiences. The school began attending the conference in 2017, when it was held at Phillips Andover Academy, and sent the largest delegations in both 2017 and 2018. When the school hosted the conference in 2019, over 550 students attended from 37 schools and 30 Hotchkiss students hosted workshops.

Mr. Yoo said, “When we first attended in 2017, the students had an incredible experience. Some of the students felt so empowered by this conference that clubs like Triple A, Pan-Asian Affinity Group, and the South-Asian Affinity Group formed [as a result].”

Serena Nam ’26 echoed Mr. Yoo’s appreciation of the conference, saying,  “Being in an affinity space that had Asians from other schools was so empowering. Obviously Hotchkiss has a lot of spaces for Asian identities, but hearing other’s experiences from different schools broadened my perspective even more. I identify as biracial, and being able to hear the unique experiences of those who are biracial or multiracial was empowering for my own sense of security in my identity.”

The 2024 Asian American Footsteps Conference will be hosted at The Governor’s Academy in Newbury, Massachussets.

Albert Chen is a contributing writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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