APACE 2023 students build their confidence

Submitted by htorborg on
Hailey Torborg
APACE 2023 student attendees

Asian Pacific American Studies faculty member, Brandon Yoo, and his team come together every summer to put on an event called the APACE Academy. Standing for Asian Pacific Advocacy, Culture and Education Academy, this week long event is designed to educate and empower local Arizona Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) high school students. It is a unique program in collaboration with local AAPI community organizations and ASU faculty and staff that started back in 1995 to address the invisibility in experiences of AAPI family and students.

This year, students spent the week learning about the diverse experiences and history of AAPI communities, including Pasefika and Native Hawaiian, South Asian, and Filipino Americans. Topics also included relevant contemporary issues such as AAPI mental health, racial stereotypes and radical healing, community advocacy, culture and climate crisis, and exploring career pathways. Students also gained leadership and public-speaking skills through a mock trial, which they got to perform for their family and community during the closing ceremony.

Some highlights of the event included student team building exercise performing KPOP with Dr. Lydia Ahn. Aunty Claudia Kaercher from Island Liaison received the 2023 APACE Academy Champion of the Community Award for her service and dedication to local Arizona AAPI youth and their families.  

"Many Asian American and Pacific Islander children don't see themselves in our community and in classrooms. Being at a place where others look like them and learning about one's history and experiences not only empowers them to know who they are, but it gives them the agency and resources to create the change that they want to see in the world.”  -Professor Brandon Yoo

Students came together at the end of the week and spoke about their learnings.

“We are not fractions— I’m not 1/2 this, 1/4 this, we are 100% human and 100% Asian American.” 

“I’m not alone in my journey as an Asian American.”

“We are more than the typical Asian American stereotype.” 

“Just because our ethnicity is only a portion of us, it doesn’t mean we are any less connected to our heritage.” 

“Don’t be afraid of who you are, show your culture, show your background.” 

APACE is an event that occurs the first week of June every year. Visit https://sst.asu.edu/apace-academy to register in advance and learn more about the event.