Model Minority Open Mic

Minority Poetry Event

Taylor Collins Arts & Entertainment Contributor

Students organized an event to challenge cultural biases that stigmatize them based on their ethnicity.

The Educational Oppor- tunities Meyer Program partnered with the OSU Poetry Club to facilitate an open mic. and discussion about the high expectations that society places on Asian Americans to be “role models.” 

The Model Minority Myth Open Mic was held on Monday, Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Asian Pacific Cultural Center. 

Rose Nguyen, biochemistry and biophysics sophomore and academic mentor for the EOP Meyer Program, co-created this event to reach out to other students who have felt this pressure throughout their college experience. 

Her personal struggle to manage these assumptions allowed her to relate to others undergoing the same anxieties.

“As an Asian American, I personally feel a lot of stress from going to school, stress from needing to be well-rounded, stress to get A’s on all of my exams,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen’s intention was to create a space for students to share poems and discuss their personal experiences of trying to live up to imposed standards of excellence and performance. 

She welcomed everyone to attend, regardless of their background or the culture that they identify with. 

“I wanted to offer the space for students who feel that too… and also let them speak out about their experience and what they’re not happy with, or what they’re happy with,” Nguyen said.

The night was kicked off by the words of Nguyen and Rosie Reyes, biochemistry and biophysics sophomore and president of OSU’s poetry club. The two girls provided an introduction into the night’s topic. 

Reyes said people perpetuate racism by making these assumptions. By doing so, society undermines other minorities and increases pressure on Asian Americans.

The poems read consisted of personal anecdotes as well as reflections on individuals who have broken through cultural stereotypes.

Reyes read Jennifer Chang’s poem, “Obedience, or the Lying Tale” which uses nature as a metaphor to a girl living under her mother’s strict rules. Throughout the poem, the girl contemplates her options to find an escape from the constricting barriers set before her.

Calvin Kocher, a cultural anthropology sophomore, read two poems. The first was “Blue Masks” by Shel Silverstein and the second was “Poems in Stone” by Shizue Iwatsuki and Lawson Inada. The lines that resonated with him most were within the stanza, “With new hope, we build new lives. Why complain when it rains, this is what it means to be free.” 

Kocher expressed his interest in discussions of race, especially in a safe environment where he could join others in a casual, conversational manner.

Students had the opportunity to share other issues that they are facing in their lives. Mohamed Alsaif, a pre-electrical and computer engineering sophomore, read an original poem about terrorist attacks that are currently happening in the Middle East. 

Alsaif took advantage of this open exchange of views to express how this type of violence affects him personally.

“I built up confidence so I can come here and let it out. I didn’t tell this to anybody in person. I sent it to family members to read it, but I never read it in front of people, so it was really important for me to come here and let it out,” Alsaif said.

Following the recitation of poems, a discussion was held where Nguyen asked the audience a few critical thinking questions on the topic of Asian culture. 

“It was really interesting to hear people talking about their heritages and if they were born in America, how they were treated and how they were called by their original ethnicity,” Alsaif said.

Events like these are designed to enlighten students who may find topics such as this taboo and empower those who are affected by these social issues. 

“Sometimes people like to put social issues on the back burner, hoping it will simply fix itself. But if we keep having events where we can discuss these issues, give people affected a voice and familiarize the community with these worldly and ongoing issues, then that can make a positive difference in this world,” Reyes said.

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