I’ve just finished a whirlwind weekend back at dear old Duke for ECAASU 2012 conference! I had the privilege of giving a workshop twice on Saturday. I had conservative expectations on how it would be received — after all, I’d never participated ECAASU or anything like it as a student, and since most of the conference is secular I wasn’t sure how mine (about the divide between religious & non-religious Asians) would be viewed.
As it turned out, there was a lot of interest! About 80 students in all attended the workshop, about 20 asked questions in the Q&A or stayed to speak personally with me, and I was asked 3 different times to give this message or speak on their campuses. Both religious and non-religious students asked questions and affirmed the material. But maybe most amazing of all was when an ECAASU (and Duke Asian Students Association) board member told me that this was the best ECAASU workshop he’d ever been to. If you know my history and the story of Duke InterVarsity, then you’ll understand how literally incredible that is. I still can’t believe it. I was so humbled and so grateful.
Humbled and grateful because there are so many reasons that I shouldn’t be here and I shouldn’t be doing this — I was one of the religious Asians who helped to perpetrate (or at least never thought to heal) the very divide I am teaching on, I am only in my first year of fully-fledged campus ministry and it’s only the first year of Asian InterVarsity, I am new to the Asian American cause myself (how could I have anything to teach?), I wouldn’t even be here if not for the insistence of my friend and ECAASU board member Caroline’s suggestion to apply as a presenter, and seriously, what do I know?!
And yet what the students kept saying that they were so glad to hear this message — religious and non-religious students alike left validated/affirmed, but also challenged to reconsider the things of the other side. It was undoubtedly miraculous. Because, judging from how amazed I am, and how grateful and responsive they were, I am fairly sure that this sort of thing has never happened before. So praise God, because I did not get here on my own, and what students left with isn’t any brilliant word I created: it was an contrite reflection of my life with the inspiration of God.
I also got to use my experience as a Duke alumnus to serve the U.Va Asian Student Union delegates! 11 ASU members came, including 2 students I’m pretty close with through VSA. It was a treat to take them to some great spots – Cookout (they were fond of the milkshakes) and Chai’s for dinner. I had a great time getting to know them better and serving them with what I have: knowledge of great restaurants. I hope to develop my relationships with them (individually and with ASU) more when I get back to Grounds.
So to close, I’ll post the workshop video. Unfortunately, this was my first iteration and my second one was SO. MUCH. BETTER. Smoother, fewer stops, closer to the proper time, with Q&A at the end, AH! Why oh why didn’t I record the second one!? Though perhaps, given the success of the weekend, this too is God’s method of reminding me that excellence and brilliance are not mine to keep and grasp (whether in the form of a YouTube link to be shared at will, or in my heart to infect as pride). Which is fitting all in all, because that too leaves me humble and grateful.
U.Va Asian Student Union delegates at ECAASU (minus Will, who took the photo).