In Rousing All-School Presentation, Asian Students Detail Bias Incidents


Carrie Cao '23

Pan-Asian students gather to discuss the all-school presentation.

During Community Time on Tuesday, April 5, Triple-A and the Pan-Asian Affinity Group organized and presented a project addressing the biases faced by Pan-Asian students.

A group of volunteers read anonymously submitted testimonies that detailed the unique experiences of this community with prejudice under various prompts. The submissions depicted a range of Pan-Asian students’ perspectives, as well as their diverse backgrounds and stories. After the presentation, the volunteers hosted an affinity space in the Multi-Cultural Center for Pan-Asian students to share their thoughts on the project. 

The project was inspired by the conference “Let’s Talk” directed at teachers and mental health professionals to highlight the voices of pan-Asian students. Annie Dong ’23, who came up with the idea for the project, said, “At the conference, they showed a video of student responses to ‘What I wish my teachers understood about me,’ and I was really inspired by it…so I wanted to do the same thing at Hotchkiss.”

Dong pitched the idea of the presentation to the Pan-Asian Affinity Group and Triple-A. After agreeing on prompts like “What I need from the Hotchkiss community,” they sent an anonymous survey to Pan-Asian students and began compiling responses over Spring Break. The group of volunteers who presented at the all-school meeting met before and after Spring Break to edit the submitted testimonies for clarity. Additionally, they met with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office, which suggested they present their project at the next faculty meeting. 

The presenters encouraged the school community to not only attend the meeting but also to listen to the voices they highlighted. When asked what she hopes the community took from the project, Ella Yu ’24, who volunteered to present a segment, said “For me, speaking from an Asian American point of view… I constantly feel like I have to pick a side of my identity, and I feel like people don’t recognize that. When they see me they just think, ‘Oh, she’s Asian,’ and that’s it. There are these stereotypes looming around us from both students and teachers, and I hope people realize that these stereotypes don’t define us.”

An affinity meeting held the night of the project presented a safe space for Pan-Asian students to debrief. Dong said, “The affinity meeting was for the organizers and some of the faculty members who were involved to get a sense of how this made the other Pan-Asian students feel because I think in doing advocacy work it’s really important that you’re actually asking whether the people you’re advocating for feel like what you’re doing represents them.”

Some students expressed concerns regarding the project. Yu said, “Some students felt like they didn’t resonate with all of the comments and that… some of these responses contradicted each other. There was a possible problem that [non-Asian] students who were listening might be a little confused… But, I think what we learned was that the point of this project was to show that we’re not just one race, we all have different experiences.”

On Wednesday, April 13, the same volunteers presented the project at a faculty meeting.