Students at University of Miami strive to educate, make a difference in Asian-American community

Posted at 4:29 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 16:34:09-04

Bao Duong is a student at the University of Miami. She’s ending her term as president of the Asian American Students Association.

“At the University of Miami, it’s a really amazing on campus cultural organization that has been formed in response to wanting to create a sense of identity for a lot the Asian American population but also for anyone who’s interested in learning about the great heritage, culture and identity of what that means,” she said.

Following the thousands of hate crimes against Asians, Duong immediately thought of her own family. She said it got to the point where she was even worried for her own life, walking outside campus.

“This idea of how to be cast as a foreigner and being cast as someone who doesn’t belong, that’s something that stays with a lot of my peers and myself,” said Duong.

A report released in March by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremist at California State University showed Asian hate crimes increased by over 150% in major cities last year.

“Those of Asian decent have been blamed and scapegoated for the outbreak of COVID-19 and as a result Asian Americans have been beaten, slashed, spat on, and even set on fire and killed,” said Representative Grace Meng.

The House plans to pass a bill today that aims to stem a spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic. The bill passed the Senate last month. President Biden supports the bill and plans to sign it.

“I’m truly heartened to see so many of colleagues over the last year and few months stand against this intolerance and join us in saying, enough is enough,” said Meng.

“Honestly scared. I had an interesting incident in the Florida Keys,” said Zach Ng.

Ng is a sophomore at University of Miami and says he experienced discrimination at a restaurant early on, right when the pandemic hit.

“On the news they were talking about he COVID pandemic and how everything was starting to unravel and the fishermen were talking about how they hated Chinese people and that it was their fault, blaming immigrants and such. I had my back towards them but it was clear we were the only ones in the whole building,” said Ng.

Ng joined AASA his freshman year. Now as the newly elected president of the club, he hopes to educate and see more acceptance of his culture.

“Asian Americans, I want them to be accepted as American and not perpetual foreigners or aliens. But also I would like for mainstream America and corporate America to understand that there are Asian-American issues, including these acts of hate now, but they go far beyond that too,” he said.

“I think it’s something where I personally want to teach others if they decide to be open to it, and through that I want to learn about other cultures and how this idea [of] we’re different but underlining we’re all human,” said Duong.

AASA has created an interactive students resource guide to help students at UM become more aware about Asian-American issues and what they can do to help. You can find that guide here.