ISABEL BINAMIRA/THE HOYA The Asian American Student Association has started up a project called “Exposure: Redefined” with which they hope to reveal the diverse personalities of Georgetown’s Asian American community. The project is an impressive attempt to deconstruct generalizations.
ISABEL BINAMIRA/THE HOYA
The Asian American Student Association has started up a project called “Exposure: Redefined” with which they hope to reveal the diverse personalities of Georgetown’s Asian American community. The project is an impressive attempt to deconstruct generalizations.

Exposure:  Redefined, a social media project started in January 2015 by the Asian American Student Association of Georgetown, aims to feature and empower Asian American students on campus in a “Humans of New York”-style photo project.

According to its Tumblr page, “Exposure:  Redefined is a photo project aimed at featuring Georgetown University’s Asian American population. The project will showcase stories from around campus, seeking to show that  Asian American Pacific Islanders are not simply a sum of stereotypes, but in fact a diverse and human community.”

Meredith Peng (SFS ’17), a co-chair on AASA’s Political Awareness Committee, created and implemented the project. She originally came up with the idea as part of a project proposal for the E3 Ambassadors, a project within the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The initiative asked students to create an idea that they could possibly implement to draw attention to and empower young Asian American students. This is when Peng conceived the idea for Exposure:  Redefined. Though the White House Initiative never implemented her project, she felt she could still bring it to Georgetown’s campus through her involvement in AASA.

Peng emphasized the creative aspect of the page and feels that Georgetown’s environment rarely fosters creativity and art. Peng runs an arts, lifestyle and travel blog online (thepengyo.blogspot.com). Drawing inspiration from her artistic inclinations, as well as the “Humans of New York” page, she wanted to bring this creative project to Georgetown’s campus to help express Asian Americans.

“People think that Asians are all the same,” she said. Because of this, Asian American students are sometimes “kind of invisible.”

The Tumblr page for the project also expresses this idea, saying that “Unfortunately, many perceive us to be one-dimensional, straight-A hard workers hailing from some country in East Asia and sailing through the American Dream to doctor-hood.”

Exposure:  Redefined aims to break down such stereotypes and shine a light on the Asian American population, and to show others “for once” that they are “different people with amazing achievements and aspirations,” said Peng.

Some questions asked already include “What’s the hardest part about being Asian American?” or “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?” Much like “Humans of New York,” the page takes the community and uses social media to show that they are more than what the general public may perceive.

Peng said that the project was meant to be “sustainable” in that anyone with a camera and a recording device can manage the page. She hopes that the project continues for “generations to come.” Peng even expressed interest in reaching out to students who were interviewed today in a few years to see how their lives have changed since their initial interview. Although they don’t currently have any official plans for other colleges picking up the project idea, Peng said that the AASA is hoping to reach out to more schools in the DMV area, as well as the East Coast, and would love if they were exposed to this project as well.

The Asian American Student Association exists to create and foster this type of discussion on Georgetown’s campus. According to their page on HoyaLink, “Through programming and events, AASA hopes to explore the Asian American identity, examine issues that the community faces today and to celebrate the achievement and contributions of Asian Americans to society.”

The organization gives a space for Asian Americans to meet other Asian Americans, make friends and share their experiences as Asian Americans within the Georgetown community.

The association is comprised of three committees: The Political Awareness Committee, which focuses on discussing the political and social issues surround Asian Americans, including the Exposure:  Redefined project; the Professional Development Initiative, which focuses on seeking out career opportunities for Asian Americans; and the Event Planning Committee, which organizes and plans events for AASA throughout the year.

Such events throughout the year include Asiafest, an annual event that occurs in the spring. Similar to Rangila for the South Asian Society, this event is a performance event, but instead of focusing on South Asian dance and performance, it covers a broader scope of the Asian culture and continent. Taste of Asia is another event that the AASA plans and organizes, which includes a potluck of foods from different Asian cultures.

The association encourages people of any race or ethnicity to attend their weekly meetings or events throughout the year — it’s not just a place for Asian Americans but a place for anyone to come and learn about the various cultures that Asia encompasses and the experiences of such students.

As for Exposure:  Redefined, anyone who wants to get involved in the project is encouraged to send the Facebook or Tumblr pages messages expressing interest. They also accept nominations for possible interviewees, as they look to feature as many people as possible.

Peng encourages people on Georgetown’s campus to pass the page along through social media platforms.
“There are so many stories to be told and heard,” says the Tumblr page.

Exposure: Redefined is an admirable attempt to reveal the stories of Asian Americans on campus in order to deconstruct pervasive stereotypes and generalizations.

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