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Tag Archives: student culture
It was an honor to be part of InterVarsity Asian American ministry’s national pilot project on a witness sermon series on vocational discernment, particularly for Asian American college students. Our series has lots to say to everyone, but addresses the specific experiences that our people go through in this area.
Our series, called #WorkSoHard: Finding a Life That Matters was designed to give students (of all Asian backgrounds) a taste of God’s vision for why we work so hard, and also reveal our broken ways of doing this. You can find all four videos of #WorkSoHard YouTube playlist here.
FYI: This is version 1.0 and only my/UVA AIV’s version of the vision of the project, contextualized for our campus. So it’s a work in progress as we figure out how to help others do this on campus or at a conference.
Special thanks to Joe Ho for being an awesome supervisor/coach/mentor and giving me the chance to be part of this project; thanks to David C, Samantha M, & Andrea C for helping with the video/recording, and for Tim M for coordinating LG awesomely to pull this thing off.
In February, our area of central/western Virginia held our annual Winter Conference at Rockbridge. Every four years, we focus on sex and relationships (which is always extremely popular for obvious reasons). We believe it’s crucial to give students direct and gracious teaching on God’s design of sex, relationships, purity, and commitment. This year we had record numbers this year! Never before have we maxed out every room and mattress at the camp. God used the time powerfully to give students a deeper vision for how God intended relationships to be.
I had the joy of leading a seminar on dating and relationships. My desire was to show students the bigger picture, beyond terminologies and technocratic jargon that many pastors or leaders have burdened them with. So, I used a dry erase board and direct examples. Judging from the great questions, feedback after, and overflowing attendance both sessions, I think it went pretty well. See for yourself with the video here:
On March 1, 2013, I was invited to speak again at OneWay IV’s large group — this time, it was for an invitational large group, specifically set-up to be friendly for newcomers. They’d spent the week doing Proxe Stations with a theme about “Faking It.” At U.Va especially, there are certain personas and images that students feel pressured to adopt. OneWay’s desire was to help refute those with the image that God has for us.
As I’ve said before, OneWay is another chapter of IV at U.Va specifically focused on black and African American students. I spoke on Luke 5:12-16 to help students see how bandaging up the wounds we have prevents us from receiving healing. I really enjoyed the chance to speak into an ethnic-specific ministry context that wasn’t my own, yet still see how my own unique Asian American identity and minority experience could really bless and resonate with students. You can find the audio of my talk here. Special thanks to Ting-Ting for recording it!
In late January, I had the rare privilege of being invited to lead a seminar at the Mid-Atlantic Union of Vietnamese Student Association (MAUVSA) annual “Advance” conference. MAUVSA is the regional organization the my beloved U.Va VSA is part of, and it gathers VSAs from 9 different schools together for shared fundraising and advocacy. Their conference was about pursuing your passion as a Vietnamese/Asian American leader. The U.Va VSA president remembered my talk at ECAASU and thought of me!
It’s so rare that a campus pastor gets the opportunity to act as a leader or speaker in such a setting. I really wanted to bring something valuable to students based upon my own personal professional and spiritual perspective. Thus, my talk – “Asian American Leadership in a White American World” – drew from my own exploration of ethnic identity and the sociological realities of America. I included material from InterVarsity vice president Paul Tokunaga’s book “Invitation to Lead” as well as InterVarsity alumna Jane Hyun and her famous book “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling.” I really loved being able to serve my own VSA students in this setting!
You can find the video of my talk here (apologies for the backlighting and angle, there wasn’t an ideal place to put the camera).
Urbana 12 Pan-Asian Lounge: WHY NON-CHRISTIAN ASIANS DON’T LIKE YOUR ASIAN CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP (video)
While at Urbana I had the privilege of speaking at the Pan-Asian N. American (PANA) lounge – a place where Asian American students could gather for food, fellowship, and to hear short talks focusing on a big idea that related to intersection of ethnic identity and spiritual life. I was the very last speaker in 4 days of excellent talks. My topic: “Asian America: Divided by God?” or, more bluntly, “Why don’t non-Christian Asian Americans like our Asian fellowship?”
This 10-minute talk is a re-shaped version of my talk at ECAASU back in February. While ECAASU focuses on political activism and cultural awareness, largely from a secular standpoint, Urbana engages these topics from a Christian background. I approached the divide between religious and non-religious Asian Americans from a scriptural standpoint. I called Asian American Christians to re-examine their fears and gifts and to recommit to Christ’s mandate and manner of witness.
It seemed to elicit positive response from folks who’ve never heard this topic spoken on before. Some students I know from Duke, as well as student leaders from MIT and the University of Michigan, asked questions about how to embody this kind of culturally-authentic / culturally-effective witness. Again I’m grateful for the chance to speak out of what God has led me through (even though I still feel so far behind where I should be)!
You can see the video here:
This recording is very overdue, but here’s the audio of a seminar I gave back in January at our area winter conference! The conference helped students deal with the unspoken question of “what happens after I become a Christian?” and how to keep on growing in general, giving students a vision for growth and purpose whether they were a skeptic still figuring out their view of Jesus, a faithful Christian who was in a position of affecting the world around them.
My seminar was on the first step: Skeptic to Seeker — it offers very practical understanding and advice for Christians on how to best help their skeptic friends become seekers, and also directly addresses skeptics (which we did have in the room) and gives them counsel on their own role in growing. The talk went very well and students asked some great questions, including a student who at the time had just started going to her school’s InterVarsity chapter. She came and asked me after about how to grow and I was really encouraged as I spoke with her then prayed with her. A couple months later at summer Rockbridge, I found out that she’d become a Christian since I saw her last! What a wonderful glimpse of the journey I’d been teaching on.
Eastern Promise, Eastern Promises: Dreams, Hope, & Glee‘s “Asian F”
(This post is about a recent episode of Glee, titled “Asian F.” You can watch it here: Asian F.)
MIKE CHANG, SR.: Deep in Hubei province this old woman knew the best school in the United States. That’s where my son belongs… My son got an A- on his chemistry test. An A- is an Asian F… An A- won’t do… It’s clear to me that either Michael is on drugs or that he’s bitten off more than he can chew. He needs to quite Glee club. Performing is a waste of his time…
MIKE CHANG, JR.: I’ll do better dad. I promise. Get me a chemistry tutor, I’ll pay for it myself. Just give me one more chance.
The unfinished story of Asian F
Through two simple, but by all accounts authentic, minutes of dialogue, Glee takes a stab at a story and life that is true for a good many Asian Americans. Glee of course isn’t a realistic (in the sense of serious) drama; while its characters are often dismissed as caricatures, they are caricatures of normal people in a normal world with normal problems. Mike Chang, Jr., the focus of “Asian F,” is no different. Many of the bloggers seem content to slap an obligatory label of “stereotype!” on the episode, calling it well-trodden material (which I find strange; if anything, there’s a dearth of mainstream portrayals of Asian America), ready to move on to critical and artistic thoughts elsewhere.
Perhaps these mostly-white writers are dismissive because the tropes seem derogatory while they instead affirm a progressive approach to diversity. Or perhaps we (Asian Americans) are ready to move on because the story is so familiar and familial to us. But while we’ve heard it, or deride it, or can catalog and inventory all the particular contours and permutations, it doesn’t mean it’s finished. The story of “Asian F” still lacks a proper ending, much less a happy one. Because you don’t have to be a performing artist to know the uncomfortable stalemate we still face when it comes to hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Even if we desire to reach some promised land of egalitarian diversity, it doesn’t deal with the places we’re coming from or going home to.
What’s more, I’m not sure we’ve dared to understand the story deeply enough, since dwelling on it is known to cause us strife. But we need to, because until we do, we will carry on ignorant, resigned, or unreconciled in ourselves. So I’m going to examine Glee’s “Asian F” and the bigger story that many Asian Americans are living. As I analyze the episode, let’s allow it to speak to us as a representation of the lives we live and take an honest look at what is really going on – not just on-screen but in ourselves.