When I first came to Stanford from a predominantly Caucasian suburb, I was terrified by the sheer number of Asian Americans. This discomfort stemmed from having not been comfortable with my own Asian-American identity. I am half Japanese and half Chinese, speak English at home and hold my chopsticks incorrectly. I joined the Japanese and Vietnamese cultural societies to find my inner Asian but quickly dropped out, feeling out of place. Consequently, I avoided the Asian community until I attended Asian-interest sorority rush events for the Korean BBQ. As I gobbled the free food, I realized that I really enjoyed the company of the girls I met, an enthusiastic family who made me feel welcome. After joining alpha Kappa Delta Phi (KDPhi), establishing my cultural identity went from a struggle to an exciting exploration. KDPhi does not define itself by any ethnicity but unites women of all backgrounds, from Cambodian to Vietnamese to Mexican and African American. Through my sisters, I learned about Vietnamese immigration struggles, Japanese-American internment, sex trafficking in Southeast Asia and all over the world, disability discrimination in the Philippines and racism against Hmong communities in the Midwest; I also tested my ability to eat pho three times a week. Thanks to the Asian Greek community, I am finally proud of my mixed heritage and am deeply inspired by the heritages of others.
While Asian Greeks are certainly active in sociopolitical issues, we do not stamp our letters on every act of leadership and achievement, often executed through groups not under AASA. My sisters have founded and led organizations like the Stanford Student Journal of Global Health which fosters service in developing Asian countries, the Asian American Wellness Program which promotes mental wellness for Asian-Americans, Initiative Against Malaria which raises funds for bednets in Southeast Asia, Arbor and Pacific Free Clinic which serves poor Asian immigrants, and the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Society (ASES) which connects students with Asian-Pacific entrepreneurs and markets. My sisters fiercely support one another in even these non-sorority projects. The Asian Greek organizations provide valuable networks that support community leaders in both individual and group endeavors to better conditions for our fellow Asians. To say that we do not know what it means to be Asian American is to ignore the wealth of inspiring acts that Asian Greeks provide all over campus.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the role of Asian-interest Greeks at Stanford. We are not purely a social club, purely a service organization or purely about being Asian. We came together seeking sisterhood both in our commonalities and our differences. We cannot be defined by any one label, because our sorority allows us to combine all our passions rather than limit ourselves to a narrow range of missions. Of course, there is always room for improving the unity of the Asian community, and breaking through apathy towards political causes is a challenge facing all student groups. Still, the members in the Asian Greek community and their commitment to Asian-American issues make me proud to rep my letters.
Jessica Uno, ‘11
Member of alpha Kappa Delta Phi