Vana Xiong – “Mission Ignition: Champion Your Cause”

As a first-year this was the first time I attended the ECAASU conference, which was held in Washington, DC.  This year was ECAASU’s  first in exploring a new dynamic of ECAASU being managed and held by several different universities.  As this was my first experience, I can say that the structure of the conference was a nice effort in being different and new, but it was definitely disorganized which was a little upsetting as a first time attendee.
ECAASU’s initiative this year was Mission Ignition: Champion Your Cause.  I appreciated the different speakers and performers who were present and made some of the first significant differences as Asian and Asian Americans in American politics, literature, and music.  The workshops I had attended were ones that were okay, but not very beneficial to learning anything new.  I felt they were very bare and minimal and didn’t push for depth in the discussions.
As a Hmong-American, I am already a minority in the Asian-American setting.  I did not appreciate the light ECAASU portrayed my heritage and my identity and because of this, I didn’t enjoy the experience ECAASU could have been.  I believe that for a conference bent on its mission to provide a safe space for Asian-Americans to talk of their stories, that it is wrong, even with well intentions- to subject a group of people in such a way where the main stream understanding of my culture is already negative.  It saddens and hurts me as a Hmong-American when I am in a setting talking about identity and the institution I am in makes remarks that hold no regards to the differences that make my heritage the way it is.  I honestly would have preferred, for no mention of Hmong than to what my peers and I had to listen to at the conference.
I would recommend this conference to Asian-Americans and their allies that are in the beginning stages of their social justice understandings towards Asian-Americans in America and want a broad picture of that understanding.  They touch upon the basics and try for an inclusive community, but ECAASU is just a conference which skims the prominent issues of Asian-Americans.

Vana Xiong

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