Sunday, December 30, 2007


Been in Shanghai for the past few days. Had very limited internet access there. So blogging was not possible. So i resorted to... writing? here's a page:

Written on Nanjing Lu, Shanghai

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Motherland.

I call him... Asian Clause

Friday, December 21, 2007

Self Inflicted Blindness

the beggar on the street. His chattering from the cold rustled his blanket made of plastic bags violently.

Sometimes I don't know what to think of poverty in Chinese cities. It is (or was) true that a lot of the beggars are actually richer than some people that actually work- they make more money begging than others who actually have jobs. I've seen some of the beggars get huge bills and then put them in a special pocket away from their main begging bowl so that they can hide the big bills and receive more pity from people (who would want to give to somebody who already has bills overflowing in his begging cup?)

But sometimes I wonder how far the show can go. They do a pretty good job at breaking my heart. But then I am forced to keep walking.

I try to never look them in the eye. And in doing that, I make them less human. I successfully dehumanize each time I walk by a beggar... the one shivering in plastic bags, the one with no legs, the blind one, the shivering mother with her child in her lap as she desperately bows her head to each passerby.

I was complaining earlier that in Beijing I hardly see any beggars. Perhaps I am no different from the government- even if they didn't hide the beggars, I would hide from them in my mind and consciousness... more than consciousness... my conscience?

But are they just using my conscience to make money? Should I really care if they are just trying to make money off of me?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


It's been 8 or 9 years since i've last been in Beijing. It is so different now. I don't understand it.

i was looking for a touristy market and ended up in some rich district of beijing where all the rich people live. It was empty. Lifeless. disturbingly sanitary. It was interesting how easy it was to find a starbucks (which has free wireless in China).

I once said that China was in a unique window of time in between the openness of its society and the settling of society into the selfish makings of capitalist society. I think that window of oppurtunity is closed. It's really hard to articulate, but the feeling is there.

The consumerism... okay, so I know- consumerism isn't all bad. I've struggled with this a lot. But honestly, even though I am the product and imposer of a consumer system (for example, I am sitting at a starbucks right now, enjoying free internet on my apple computer), I hate how it can change people or a place.

This isn't the Beijing I knew. But I guess I can't stop change and the insatiable desire of all Asian societies to be more like the west. Affluence is the goal, and it is somehow the betterment of society to achieve affluence.

But i can't help but think about all the people made invisible in China. Where are all the beggars? The handicapped that I once saw squatting in the subways all the time? Even the common workers seem to be invisible and unseen. I don't think Beijing has solved its poverty problem. I think it has just hidden it. Hiding it for some utopian dream of what the Olympics will do to make them matter in the world.

I feel disconcerted. The China I knew is gone. The most disturbing of disturbing feelings that I have right now is this: I don't feel like I have left America.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


After a long flight and 4 movies, we have touched down in Beijing and have eaten hot pot and are about to fall asleep in exhaustion. Hopefully i will have a good stomach.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

2 long years

2 long years since I have last been to China. In some ways, my vision has changed for China, but in many ways, the passions remain. My career is totally irrelevant to China these days... well... maybe not totally irrelevant. I am in contact with several international students from China now due to my job. I'm sure my passion for China and my passion for college students will somehow fit together someday. But for now, I shouldn't let myself get distracted from the present. (but really, i'm easily distracted...)

This is the first time I am going to China not doing Dad's business for a long time. Our priorities (in order) are:

1. food
2. drink
3. shop

But I can't help but think there are other reasons I will be in my motherland that just haven't presented themselves to me. I really want to have a break from Dad's business... it is now my job- but at the same time- who really gets a break? Dad surely doesn't go on vacation at all. We'll have to see how this all pans out.

But 2 long years...

I do miss the smell. I miss the language. I miss looking like everyone around me. I miss realizing I'm a dumb american. I miss the joys of finding a food stand that I like that I keep returning to. I miss...

I miss the people too. That's actually what I miss the most. But it's not the same because I won't see the same people again. One day I hope to return to LSV. One day I'll be able to see the kids again, except grown up. One day...

You know, I'm visiting all the metropolitan sites of China... but there really is nothing like the country side and hanging out with real people, not just tourism showcases.

Anyhow... I'm not sure what to expect... actually, truthfully I am scared to expect anything. One thing I know I can expect is cold weather. and that's it. However, I really want to enjoy this vacation. man. vacation is so complicated in my head sometimes. I just need to relax, but i'm scared my heart won't let me. i come back from china with a broken heart each time. This country breaks my heart.

Well, the plan will be:

18th-21st: Beijing
21st-26th: Qingdao
26th-30th: Shanghai
31st: Magically reappear back in the states with a new haircut, wardrobe, presents, a few pounds gained from eating, a few pounds lost from food poisoning and a well-practiced ability to speak mandarin

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Asian-American Identity Formation

Identity in the contemporary globalized context is seen through a lens of increasing insecurity as the functions of modern notions of identity formed through nationhood have become exposed and questioned. The exposure of the instability of identity has caused a dual response in which either individual identity has become sublimated in the name of global equality through consumerism or has become defensive and entrenched in an extreme fundamentalism and primordialism. These dual responses have not yet allowed for the reformation of identity in the context of a globalized world; on the contrary, these responses have served to create increased rift and conflict within communities and individuals. Within the chaos of a postnational identity crisis is produced the exposure of the hybridized nature of identity. One of the groups of people where this exposure is evident is within diaspora populations such as Asian-Americans, in which their identity is no longer of monadic nature, but instead has taken up a multi-sourced nature- in the case of Asian-Americans, the source of their identity is found within their country of origin and their host country, America.
In the midst of this environment of identity confusion, much as concepts of identity based on nationhood have proven impotent, so have the strategies of nations to not only form, but to mobilize individuals and communities. Dreams of a new kind of perception of the individual and community must be formed along with corresponding strategies to achieve those dreams in the light of this global insecurity. This paper will focus on the development of a identity within the context of Asian-American identity with the intent of creating a new perception of identity that can be effectively mobilized to social action in the midst of contemporary global society. Even further, the creation of this perception of identity can be formed into a template for the formation of identity in hybridized subjects in this age of increasing identity insecurity.
Identity Insecurity
Cultural policy in its present state is in crisis. Cultural policy is the institutional effort by governments to form the identity and culture of their citizenry. Its current impotency, according to Miller and Yudice in their book, Cultural Policy, is that the identity of the global subject is in conflict between the identities of the citizen and the consumer . This represents a conflict of authority between the nation and the market that is evident with the rise of neoliberal society. Neoliberalism, along with the advent of postmodernism and postcolonialism in the current culture has exposed that the notion of a singular national identity is but an illusion. This creates a challenge and crisis in cultural policy because the authority to create identity is no longer simply in one nation, or even in the concept of nationhood itself, as seen with consumerism, in which identity is not centered around national identity, but on individual choices in consumption. Cultural policy’s inadequacy to engage identity in this context has left a void and insecurity in the area of identity formation in the context of an increasingly connected global society.
The response to this insecurity has been a dual response. On one hand, the lack of identity affirmation has caused some to overcompensate with extreme fundamentalism and primordialism to maintain a sense of singular identity . Under this type of response, policy is formed that reinforces exclusion by dictating who in society is “in” and who is “out”. The accompanying response is an opposite notion of individualism in which group identity is sublimated in a utopian dream of individual equality through consumption. The former response is an ugly patriotism and the latter is a sublimation of all identity in the name of equality. Both of these responses are inadequate to engage the changing global landscape of identity formation and the creation of constructive uses of identity in contemporary global society.
This dichotomous split between fundamentalism and individualism is really a split between the citizen and consumer that Miller and Yudice had mentioned earlier. In an attempt to reconcile this split, Nestor Canclini suggests that the split is really just an illusion. In fact, he suggests that these are not separate entities but one in the same, in that the role of the citizen and its agency has remained intact within the identity of the consumer. Canclini argues that the democratic citizen’s agency and ability to choose leaders is still intact within the identity of the consumer, in that the consumer has the ability to choose what he or she consumes . This, however, is a limited vision because it ignores the very inequalities that consumerism must construct in order to exist. What kind of voice do those who cannot consume have? If they do not have the ability to consume, what kind of agency will they have? Canclini’s vision of a civil consumerism fails in that consumerism is not a catalyst towards increased choice; rather it is an obstacle to agency and choice. Therefore, Canclini’s solution to this dichotomy is more of a way to mask the inadequacies of consumerism rather than a solution to the tension between the citizen and consumer.
The solution, therefore would not be the compromise suggested by Canclini between these two, but the creation of a genuinely hybridized kind of identity in the midst of this tension. Manuel Castells recognizes this tension between primordial fundamentalism and individualism in the context of his “network society” perception of contemporary global society as a tension between legitimizing identities and resistance identities, and suggests the creation of a new kind of identity called the project identity . The legitimizing identity is an identity that is associated with assimilation with the dominant institutions of society, while the resistance identity is the reaction to this kind of identity by those marginalized by dominant society, and is based on a defensive stance to protect that marginalized identity from being overtaken by dominant, legitimizing identities. Castells suggests the emergence of the project identity, in which “social actors, on the basis of whichever cultural materials are available to them, build a new identity that redefines their position in society and, by so doing, seek the transformation of overall social structure”. This takes on the transformative properties of the legitimizing identity while simultaneously taking hold of the affirmation of individual identity found in resistance identity.
Can social action and activism still be constructive and effective in the context of the decentralized subject? What changes must occur in the way cultural policy is formed in order to inspire such action? Neither of the extreme responses to the insecurity of identity in contemporary global society brings about a constructive effect. On the one hand, the response of fundamentalism creates responses that only benefit one group of people and fosters conflict as more groups cling stubbornly to fundamentalism. On the other hand, the individualistic dream of equality in neo-liberalism is simply a dream in that equality is not achieved; rather, inequality is justified as the fault of the individual, ignoring and masking the larger systems of poverty and discrimination that go beyond simply the individual. It is imperative that the insecurity in the notion of singular-identity that has formed both of these responses is redirected into responses of brotherhood and affirmation. The challenge, then, is to find a way to achieve the dreams of both fundamentalism and neo-liberalism, in which a sense of belonging can be pursued alongside a pursuit of equality- a simultaneous pursuit of community transformation and individual identity transformation, in pursuit of Manuel Castell’s vision of “project identity”.
Asian American Identity
Although one can usually side with one of these responses to mask the insecurity, the exposure of this insecurity has become unable to be masked in a growing group of people with hybridized identities, such as people with biracial descent and diaspora populations. There is nothing to hide or mute the tension of identity. These identities represent the undermined state of national identity, because there is no fundamental root to their identities.
In diaspora identities specifically, the diasporic subject has two sources of identity- that of its “mother country” and of the host country. This is seen poignantly in Asian-American identity. In the host country, the cultural construct of ethnicity is seen as the definer of the Asian-American’s identity. When the Asian-American is in his or her “mother country”, what is seen is the culturally constructed American identity. In both contexts, the Asian-American cannot firmly be on the inside or the outside, in that he or she can never firmly fit in all the standards of who is “in” or “out” in any national context. This creates the abstract locality of Asian America. This abstract locality is an introjection of a notion of Asia into the notion of the nation of America , which exposes the abstractness and arbitrariness of both the notion of Asia and America. It questions the absolutism in physical borders suggested by the notion of the nation because the sovereignty of Asian national identities such as Korean or Chinese identity remains even within the physical borders of America. Even the absolutism of the notion of the mother country is exposed as simply another cultural construct. For example, Chinese identity itself is a very modern construct that tries to give a singular identity to a very diverse population within physical borders , exposing the illusion of an absolute identity even within the context of the mother country. The inability to categorize Asian America in the standards of nationhood shows that Asian-American identity is a model of global, decentralized identity and challenges modern notions of nation and identity.
Thus, Asian-American identity is an effective place to model what cultural policy must look like in the context of global society, because Asian-Americans do not cleanly fit into the matrix of Castell’s legitimizing identity or resistance identity. They have the characteristics of both identities: the need to assimilate imposed by legitimizing identity and the fundamentalism that translates to ties to the “mother country” found within the complex of the resistance identity. Therefore, the Asian-American identity is a potential platform from which a project identity can be formed. Whatever understanding wrought from cultural policy concerning the formation of Asian-American identity exposes broader concepts and themes that are vital to the formation of cultural policy and how those policies can be used to constructively transform society. The goal of such policy must be to simultaneously affirm the individual identity of Asian-Americans and transform the contextual society that surrounds Asian-Americans. Thus, it is not destroying the concept of who is “in” and “out”. Instead, it is destroying the hierarchy that dictates that those that are “in” are above those that are “out”. The goal would be to find policies that simultaneously create a space for Asian-American identity formation and for the constructive transformation of others.
A Template For Asian-American Project Identity Formation: Intervaristy Christian Fellwoship
I will focus specifically at the cultural policies of the UCSD chapter of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. Intervarsity is a national Christian non-profit organization that works with college students. It operates as a “parachurch”, which works alongside churches to engage students in college campuses more effectively. It currently has over 1,000 staff and serves more than 34,000 students. Intervarsity USA was established in 1940 by a partnership of Americans and Canadians.
History of Engagement with Ethnicity
Intervarsity is inter-denominational and in its purpose statement, strives to:
establish and advance at colleges and universities
witnessing communities of students and faculty
who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord:
growing in love for God,
God's Word,
God's people of every ethnicity and culture
and God's purposes in the world.
As stated in its purpose statement, Intervarsity has historically pursued the formation of communities “of every ethnicity and culture”. In its early history, Intervarsity had been very active in the area of racial reconciliation between whites and blacks. One of the commonly told stories was of a bible study in 1945 at a trustee’s house. The bible study leader brought in some black students, and the trustee refused to let them in. The bible study leader refused to refuse the black students. The trustee eventually complained to the board about this. The board decided unanimously against the trustee and banned segregation from any of their events with a commitment to bring unity to the body of Christ . In the 1960’s, Intervarsity integrated their chapter camps in the South. In their tri-annual national conference in 1970, they were the first organization to have a black man, Tom Skinner, as one of its main speakers, and more recently had the first Native American to be a main speaker at a Christian conference in 2003.
However, in most of its history, Intervarsity had not been known for engaging the Asian American population until the 1980’s. It was during the 1980’s in which the population of Asian-Americans exploded on the college campuses. From 1984 to 1994, the national percentage of Asian-American students jumped from 3% to 6%, bringing the total national undergraduate population of Asian-Americans to 717,600 undergraduate Asian-Americans Even more recently, specifically at UCSD, which has a generally higher population of Asian students than the national average, the population of Asian students has increased from 28% in 1996 to 39% in 2006, surpassing the population of even Caucasian students, which make up 31% of the school population . Along with this increased population of Asian-Americans, issues specific to Asian-American became exposed in the academic arena. This increase in the Asian-American population led to the creation of Asian-American Studies departments in several schools .
Coinciding with the boom in the general campus population, the number of Asian-American students in Intervarsity went from 788 to 2,837 in a span of 10 years, and today 1/7 of its students are Asian-American (4,603 of 31,438) and 1/8 of its staff are Asian-American (120 of 880) . Much as the increase of Asian-American students in the general campus population caused an increase interest in Asian-American studies in the academic institutions of America during the 1990’s, Intervarisity’s interest in Asian-American issues increased.
Historically in the national history of Intervarsity, there have been two different approaches to engage race and ethnicity. Intervarsity’s engagement with Asian Americans is different according to whichever model is being used in each campus. One general strategy used is a pattern of integration. This pattern is prevalent in the Los Angeles area. In this model, the fellowship is multiethnic and includes every culture. This type of model emphasizes on racial reconciliation. In this model, Asian-Americans participate in the fellowship alongside people of other ethnic backgrounds. This model seems to follow an equality model similar to the perspective of neo-liberalism in that each identity is equal and individual, and is seen without any difference.
One model, which was prevalent in Boston and Chicago, has several ethnic specific fellowships, held together with a strategy of covenant. A strategy of covenant, like what is used in Boston, is an actual physical written covenant that a student leader from each fellowship signs that says that they each commit to pursue unity and do joint activities together. In this model, Asian-American students are at the forefront of the maintenance and creation of inter-fellowship and inter-ethnic dialogue and covenant. This model emphasizes on the affirmation of each ethnic identity and culture, which follows a similar pattern as fundamentalism.
For a period of time, the leaders from each region were in conflict with each other on the national level. Each side demanded that their model was what the organization on a national level needed to look like. Eventually, the conflict was resolved when each side realized that they needed to stop looking at models and begin to look at their values. Each side realized that the opposing side clung to values that they lacked. For example, the Boston/Chicago chapters found that they lacked in racial reconciliation and were able to learn how to do racial reconciliation from the Los Angeles chapters. In the same way, Los Angeles chapters realized that they lacked in cultural identity formation and needed to learn from the Boston an Chicago chapters how to foster cultural identity awareness.
Intervarsity: UCSD
Currently, the UCSD chapter of Intervarsity, which is UCSD’s largest student organization with about 400 students total attending its various weekly events, contains elements of both models. On the one hand, it follows the UCLA model and has one fellowship that is not categorized by race. However, on the other hand, the UCSD Intervarsity has two bible studies that are centered on race: the Students of Color and South Asian bible study. Both of these bible studies were created to reach out to communities that UCSD Intervarsity had not successfully reached yet, because the current ethnic makeup of the fellowship is dominantly East Asian and white. This creates an interesting dynamic in that there seems to be an equal relationship between Asians and whites because they are both dominantly within the “in” group of Intervarsity and are not a marginal population. This creates a problem similar to the problems caused by the model minority myth within Asian-American identity: there is an illusion of racial equity and diversity within the fellowship, while there are still groups that are marginalized from the fellowship. At the same time, several white students have noticed the increased number of Asian-Americans and as a result, a white flight has begun to occur as the proportion of leaders that are of Asian descent rose above those that are white. These problems arise because there is no sense of Asian-American identity explicitly expressed.
In 2001, there was an attempt to foster racial reconciliation with a series of discussions called Race Matters. However, the discussions were poorly led and resulted in what James Choung, the San Diego divisional head, described as “white guilt and university guilt”. In other words, instead of reconciliation, old racial bitterness was exposed and amplified. Because of this, race was a taboo topic for a few years. However, after a few years, the bad taste left by these discussions faded, and Intervarsity began to engage race again and started the Students of Color ministry in 2003. In 2004, an effort spearheaded by James Choung, began to engage the area of Asian-American identity. This culminated in the Asian-American Student Leadership Conference (AASLC).
James Choung was frustrated with the current engagement of Asian-American identity because it seemed as if the Asian-American identity was an invisible identity, coinciding with David Paulumbo-Liu’s fear that the very concept of Asian-American is in the process of disappearance, to the point at which “Asian-American” is not even a listed category in demographic studies . If it ever was made aware, Asian-American culture was always defined by its problems, such as issues with immigrant parents, passive aggressiveness and identities based on success. However, James Choung attended a conference that stuck out to him, because eight different cultures met at a conference, there was a performance in which each performer was from a different ethnicity and performed a dance from their indigenous cultures. He suddenly realized that the one thing that every culture was not ashamed of was their food and their art. There were parts of culture that every group could be ashamed of. However, there was a strength in each culture that each culture could draw from and be proud and confident of. Choung decided to investigate strategies to find these specific strengths within the Asian-American culture.
When he discussed this further with other Asian American leaders, one leader brought up the example of Ken Fong, who was the leader of a band called Event Called Hiroshima. This band uses their traditional Japanese instruments to play jazz music, and they have the most popular appeal with the African American community. When asked why they had such great cross-cultural success, Ken Fong quickly replied that they had “made peace with [their] instruments”. Inspired by this, James sought out to create place where Asian-Americans can “make peace” with their culture to bless other cultures. Thus, the first AASLC was focused on the positive strengths of the general Asian-American culture, such as a high value for community and excellence. They also had art performances, dramas and worship performed by Asian Americans. They even had different foods from the different Asian nations, such as Thai and Vietnamese food. The goal was to expose the invisibility of Asian-American culture and render visible not only the faults of Asian-American culture, but its strengths.
The next year, 2005, Intervarsity held the second AASLC. This second conference had the theme of “Awaken the Dragon”. The goal was to go beyond awareness and into activism. It was a challenge to go beyond simply the acknowledgement of Asian-American strengths, but to use the strengths of the Asian-American identity to constructively transform whatever contexts that individual finds itself. During this conference, there were talks on the historical context and heritage that Asian-Americans come from. For example, one speaker highlighted several Asian Christian leaders in the area of social justice, in an attempt to create “ Asian-American Martin Luther Kings” from the Asian-American context.
Another speaker, Erna Kim-Stubblefield, explained that the reason why most Asian-Americans are able to be in America today is because of the pursuit of justice by the African American community. The speaker connected the formation and passing of the Immigration Act of 1965, which abolished quotas on immigration with the political environment that had been created by the Civil Rights Movement. The speaker then repeated this line several times: “We have a debt of social justice to the African American community, because it is the very reason that we exist today!” It was an exhortation to not only be the model minority that works toward the legitimization of the hierarchically higher social constructs and standards, which is the common stereotype of Asian-Americans, but to become a model minority that joins in the resistance identity it was born from in the African American identity and legitimates standards of social justice.
These two conferences are prime examples of policy that has done great and effective work in destroying the invisibility of the Asian-American identity, a hybridized identity, and positioning that identity to be a constructive force in the greater community. The destruction of the invisibility of Asian-American identity and the construction of its visibility directly engages and can potentially destroy the insecurity of identity in this hybridized identity. However, those conferences have come and gone. Right now, the issue of ethnicity is not at the forefront of the policies and activities of Intervarsity, and the Asian-American identity seems to be easily slipping back into invisibility in reaction to identity insecurity. Although individual conferences are effective in raising awareness and spurring up inspiration for action, more long-term policies must be implemented to keep the Asian-American identity healthily visible.
Long-term Strategies
AASLC: Prophet and Network
Manuel Castells suggests that the formation of project identities from a resistance identity requires two factors: Prophets and decentralized organization and action. The prophet is not necessarily a leader, but a symbolic face given to a cultural insurgency that becomes the voice for that particular movement. The most important step, however, according to Castells, is a “networking, decentred form of organization and intervention,” . This means that project identities must be formed and performed on a grassroots level, and cannot simply rely on a centralized source of identity formation. As mentioned earlier, previous concepts of singular source identity formation such as the nation fail to adequately address the contemporary global subject and move it to action because the illusion of nationhood is unable to cover up the hybridity and plurality of individual and community identity. At the same time, the standard of the nation is held up. The disconnection with the illusion of nationhood and the plural notion of identity creates the insecurity that creates fundamentalism and the sublimation of identity.
Intervarsity has begun to construct a project identity for Asian Americans through AASLC. However, after the first two conferences, Intervarsity began to shift its focus to other issues such as social justice issues in Africa and building links with other social justice organizations outside of the Christian community in UCSD. Although these were two very good conferences and the issues that Intervarsity is stepping into are quite important, it is important that Intervarsity does not neglect issues of cultural identity, which would allow for Asian American identity to fade back into invisibility. Asian-American identity must stand side by side on the forefront along with the issues of social justice that Intervaristy is currently exploring. Furthermore, it must be recognized that the affirmation of Asian-American project identity in fact furthers the work of social justice. Therefore, in order for the progress of identity formation and mobilization that was achieved to be maintained, these conferences should be continued in a consistent manner to consistently bring exposure to the presence of Asian America in the context of the university.
Future AASLC’s must continue to work towards forming prophetic symbols that embody a sense of social movement into the identity of Asian America. This was begun by the second AASLC, in which the speakers contextualized the Asian-American identity with talks such as Erna Stubblefield’s connection with Asian America with the civil rights movement and James Choung’s “Asian Heroes in the Christian Faith”, in which he highlighted different important Christian figures of Asian descent in order to highlight the “Asian Martin Luther King Jr.’s”. These talks worked to construct prophetic figures to incite and represent the formation of project identities, in which a new identity is built with an intention to bring transformation to the surrounding contextual society.
However, as Castells points out, the formation of project identities requires more than just central symbolic figures for these identities. Decentralized, hybridized identities, such as the Asian-American identity, will require more decentralized, grassroots action and organization. Thus, AASLC’s next step for development would be for the conference to be a platform for the creation of a network between different organizations. AASLC’s current role as a nascent prophetic figure in the formation of Asian American identity is a top-down effort to form Asian-American identity and social action. AASLC must add to its focus of identity formation an emphasis on network creation between different groups in order to create a grassroots, bottom up movement to compliment the top-down nature of the conference in terms of identity formation and mobilization.
Currently, AASLC has created a loose network of connections between different Christian organizations and churches that focus on Asian American issues in the San Diego area. Most notable has been the development of a group of pastors from different Asian churches in the area that meets monthly. In this group, different pastors gather and discuss and pray for the different issues that come to the forefront of their own specific ministries. This created a loose network between different pastors of Asian-specific churches in the San Diego Area. However, this network still stays within the context of Christianity, whereas Asian American identity is not confined to the Christian faith.
Therefore the first priority for future AASLC’s is to form a network between different organizations and groups focused on Asian American students at UCSD that go beyond the Christian sphere of influence, such as MASA (Multi-Asian Student Association), CASA (Chinese American Student Association), the Nikkei Student Union, Lambda Phi Epsilon, and other similar organizations or groups that either focus on gathering Asian-American students or have a large constituency of Asian-American students. This will not necessarily require Intervarsity to lead the effort in the formation of such a network, but simply that AASLC acts as a catalyst by the provision of a platform for this network to form. This will require AASLC to be open to people of other faiths than Christianity. The purpose of this network would not be to necessarily centralize social action from Asian-American students. Rather, it would be to encourage social action in all parts of the expansive Asian-American community.
Even more long-term, AASLC should explore the creation of networks that go beyond simply Asian America. Already, AASLC invites people from all ethnicities to come and learn about Asian-American identity to encourage inter-group dialogue on issues such as cross-cultural communication. However, the focus is still only on Asian-Americans. Therefore, AASLC should lead to the formation of a platform where a cross-cultural dialogue can be fostered and other project identities can be developed in other cultural groups. This is important because a project identity changes its surrounding societal context. In order to affect society, awareness of the societal context is essential. Not only can this give Asian-Americans an idea of where they can bring transformation to other groups- it also creates a space for other cultural groups to bring transformation to Asian America. Thus, AASLC has the potential to become a site of project identity construction for more than just Asian-Americans, but for all groups.
Asian-American identity exposes the contemporary insecurity and struggle for identity has left the global subject in a state of limbo in which both the calls for the affirmation of individual identity and the need to be assimilated into a community larger than the self. An identity must be formed that transcends both of these reactions to the identity insecurity of the contemporary global society. In this context of insecurity, it is vital that a new perception of the individual form and strategies for mobilizing those individuals and communities be formed in the pursuit of the project identity. Intervarsity provides a platform from which this type of perception and identity can be formed through its Asian-American Student Leadership Conference.
Through the development of this type of project identity within the context of Asian-Americans, in which identity is constructed with the purpose of the transformation of individuals and surrounding society outside of the Asian-American context, a template and model for the project identity can be constructed that can be applied to other emergent hybridized individuals and their communities. The work of identity and community development within and surrounding Asian America is vital because its implications go beyond simply the Asian-American subject, but spills over into a global context. It is within the context of Asian America where questions of global individual and community significance and consequence can begin to be engaged.