University of Washington - Seattle

Most Outstanding Educational Program Nomination: University of Washington – Seattle

#KhSAYRP: 11.17.2018 Rising SEAs

With the end of spring quarter and the end of the 2018-2019 school year fast approaching, we would like to take the time to look back at some of the best highlights from the entire year. The Yearly Recap Project launches today, and will consist of numerous videos, each of which will be posted every Tuesday and Thursday, so stay tuned! We would like to share a video from our biggest event of autumn quarter, Rising SEAs 2018. On November 17th, SE Asian middle and high school students from all across WA state came together at the Husky Union Building, to celebrate their achivements in education and acknowledge their cultural resilience. Director: Dylan TranProducer/Editor: 伊藤健Camera Operators: Jody Tran, Kathleen Nguyen, Jack Zaw, Vy Pham, and Kazuki Kim

Posted by KhSA UW on Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Provide a detailed description of the educational program and the population it served. Details MUST include: date of event/time-period, number of participants, program purpose (goals, objectives, etc.), use of resources (finances, community support, etc.), marketing techniques and evaluation processes.

Rising SEAs occurred on November 17th, 2018. The event began at 9:00 AM and ended at 6:00 PM. We saw 163 registered Southeast Asian high school students, more than 50 volunteers, and numerous community partners. Our event was entirely funded by donations from community partners such as ACRS, CIRCC, CAPAA, etc. VSAUW personally donated $150 to the event and helped to reserve meeting rooms as part of our role as a registered student organization on UW campus. Rising SEAs’ marketing was through Facebook and community outreach by going to high schools in the Greater Seattle Area and the surrounding cities. Rising SEAs is about claiming our space, raising our voices, standing up for what we believe in. dismantling systems of oppression, reclaiming our history and identities, and claiming our future and potential. The SEAs in Rising SEAs stands for Southeast Asian, and we hoped to help high school students of this community learn more about how they can access higher education and see themselves in institutions like UW.

This event was spearheaded by our Political Chair, Jessica Minh Đỗ. As part of our new Constitutional pillar of Civic Engagement, Jessica brought this collaboration to VSAUW in hopes of making this pillar a tangible reality. Because our Political Chair served a second term, they were able to maintain the relationships that VSAUW started to build from the year prior. Rising SEAs is undeniably a collaborative and 100% grassroots effort, a fact that holds immense power and agency. We worked mainly with the Khmer Students Association, and with community partners. The program was supposed to be a recruitment effort by the UW itself, but when our student leaders saw that the school was failing Southeast Asians by neglecting to hold Rising SEAs for the third year in a row, we decided to step up and intervene.

How did this educational program serve the campus and/or community? What motivated the organization to host the educational program?

The Southeast Asian community is historically one of the most under-served when it comes to higher education. Because of our unique history, one rooted in war and intergenerational trauma, it is difficult for some to even imagine themselves finishing high school. We wanted to remind them that they are each undeniably powerful, and they can meet these goals. We wanted to show them that we did it too, despite the odds.

How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the educational program? What was the outcome of the program in terms of goals met, successes, and failures?

Organizing the event was extremely difficult, as any community collaboration is bound to be. Through our Political Chair, we worked with KhSA and our community partners to incorporate their voices and perspectives. Though there were challenges in communicating, we found ourselves overcoming them by opening up effective lines of communication, and dedicating ourselves to meeting regularly to update each other on every part of the the process. There were many times during the planning process that we doubted the possibility of this event, but we persisted, because we knew that even if we changed one person’s perspective, we have met our goals.

What specific topics did this program address? What questions did it answer? How do you evaluate its success, both qualitatively and quantitatively?

This program addressed the gap in Southeast Asian presence at higher education institutions. We showed up physically and mentally for these high school students, but also for ourselves. These versions of us had to be our own counselor, the editor, and the researcher on the path to higher education. We asked the question why, and was met with an answer of silence, so we pushed and pushed, until the walls broke down and we could see the answer: That america did not want us here, and yet we are here anyway. And then we asked how, how can we keep going despite these painful truths. We found that answer within our communities. We found that answer by looking at 163 high school students who took an entire Saturday to be on UW campus at 8:30 in the morning, and stayed with us until 6 at night. The answer is resilience and solidarity. As an organizer of the event, our Political Chair recounted how many students in the crowd wanted to create their own VSAs, KhSAs, ChamSAs, and other Southeast Asian student organizations at their own high schools.

The fact that this event even happened after three years of institutional failure to commit to the educational outcomes of the Southeast Asian community is something miraculous. Our very presence in the university setting is a testament to success. It is the mark of striving and pushing in the face of systemic oppression. VSAUW made a statement in standing with the Southeast Asian community and defying the model minority stereotype by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in our struggles.