Boxes and boxes of pamphlets are stacked up against the walls in the Student Activities Commission office at the end of the third floor Leavey hallway. Students are running back and forth, moving and re-adjusting folders, carrying more boxes and calling out to Linda Jong (NHS ’03) for directions. She is also shuffling around in the hustle and bustle as this year’s chair of the East Coast Asian Student Union Conference.

This is the final-hour frenzy of the preparation for the nearly 900 students from all over the East Coast who will be at Georgetown this weekend for the annual conference. ECASU started in 1977 as “as a powerful forum and vehicle for education, empowerment and collaborative action on Asian Pacific American issues,” year’s conference Web site said. Each year a different school hosts the conference in hopes of building stronger relationships among Asian Pacific American organizations across the country, as well as educating students on issues pertinent to the Asian Pacific American community. The conference will run from Friday until Sunday.

This is the first time that the conference has ever been held at Georgetown University. Last year’s conference was hosted by Duke. Conference chair Linda Jong said Georgetown was chosen because it is in the nation’s capitol and has the right political atmosphere. She also pointed out her disappointment with the lack of available resources for Asian Pacific Americans on campus. “We have no advisor and only one [academic] course on Asian American literature,” she said. “The conference will help create exposure [for these issues] and show that Asian Pacific Americans is a presence in the community.”

Indeed, the conference aims to educate through a variety of ways. There will be three keynote speakers – Karen Narasaki, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium; Vijay Prashad, director of the International Studies Program at Trinity College; and Robert Underwood, Congressman representing Guam in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Also, the conference will run about 10 workshops such as “Civil Rights and Student Activism: Asian Pacific American Perspectives,”Queer Asia: We’re Here, We’re Queer, and Yes, We Really Are Asian,”The State of Southeast Asian Americans” and “Asian American Studies NOW!”

A student showcase involving all types of cultural expression is scheduled for tonight as well as an Asian American Idol. Winners of the competition can possibly win free ECASU 2003 Conference t-shirts, free entry to an after-party or a Motorola V70 cell Phone and TRL tickets.

Chris Wong (COL ’05) is looking forward to the conference. “This will be my first year participating in it,” he said. “As a SAC commissioner I helped fund the event so it’s cool to see it all come together because so many people have contributed their time, money and effort.”

Wong cannot wait to converse with other Asians and share views about the culture and music. By having the conference in D.C., other students will get a first-hand look at how Asians live in D.C. and participate in politics, he said. He will also be setting up a photo exhibit in the Intercultural Center Galleria.

Georgetown students have been planning for the conference for over a year, and are anxious to see how it will turn out.

“This doesn’t seem real,” Jong said. “And all this planning has me feeling nauseous and nervous. But I’m so excited.”

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