Asian-American women shared their personal and professional experiences at a panel discussion Tuesday night.
About 30 students gathered in the Marvin Center to listen to the panel, dubbed “Celebrating Us: Asian American Women of Excellence.” Speakers discussed the importance of fully integrating Asian-American women into society.
“The fight (for civil rights) is still going on,” said panelist Kiran Ahuja, national director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, citing reproductive health and the mail order bride industry as important women’s issues. “We still need people like you, the Asian women that are here and their allies.”
Other speakers talked about their contributions to the Asian-American community.
GW English Professor Patricia Chu, a self-trained Asian-American literature specialist, explained the difficulties Asian-American writers face in bringing their literature to mainstream American culture. She said Asian-American writers are a minority in literary circles.
“When I began here, there were only six senior scholars who had published a book in Asian literature,” Chu said. “Now there are about 50 people who are studying Asian American literature in the country.”
Panelist Thanh Tran, program director of the National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies, discussed 10 things that Asian-American women can do to celebrate themselves, including watching movies, nourishing the body and mind and window shopping.
The event kicked off GW’s celebration of Asian-American Heritage month, said Grace Henry, a multicultural counselor in the Multicultural Student Services Center. Panelists said they thought the event was a good way to bring attention to Asian-American issues.
“People are always looking for mentors and for people to connect with, share thoughts with and hear what people have to say,” Tran said.
The Multicultural Student Services Center and Sigma Psi Zeta, a campus Asian sorority, organized the event.
Panelist Theresa Lizado, a GW alumna, said she joined the panel because she was proud of the organizers’ efforts.
“You see the spark in their eyes, and you want to develop it,” Lizado said.
Organizers said they were pleased with the event.
“It was really empowering to hear the stories of different minority women, especially Asian-American women because generally people think of minorities in terms of African Americans or Latinos,” Henry said. “It’s important for the GW community to understand that Asian-American history is a part of American history.”
Attendees said the discussion was interesting.
“When Professor Chu was speaking, I was just like, ‘I feel you,'” sophomore Trinh Tran said.
Members of the Asian fraternity Pi Delta Psi also attended the event.
Junior Alan Chen said, “We are here to support our the sisters.”