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On Friday, October 27 at Kerckhoff Patio from 12-3PM, the UCLA External Vice President’s Office (EVP) held a phone banking event, which is a political campaign where students can call their Senator or Congress Representative to express their support for, in this case, the continuation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and for the support of the 2017 DREAM Act.

UCLA has the largest number of undocumented students in the University of California system, and around 1,100 undocumented students study at UCLA and UC Berkeley combined.

DACA, signed by President Obama in June 2012, allowed undocumented immigrants, who had come to the U.S. as a minor and usually know no other home, to legally stay, work, and even receive an education in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

This was tremendous progress for the human rights and civil liberties of undocumented immigrants. Prior to the policy, undocumented immigrants were vulnerable to crimes such as violence and exploitation from employers because they feared that law reinforcements would report the undocumented immigrants for deportation instead of helping.

However, on September 2017, the Trump administration rescinded DACA, claiming that the way Obama installed the policy, which was by Executive Order, was an abuse of power and promised that the current administration will do things the “right way” by passing a bill through Congress.

October 5, 2017 was the last day for undocumented immigrants to renew their DACA and many now face a very uncertain future where they may lose their job, be detained, and even deported because there are no federal legislation that protects them after DACA expires. Moreover, economists commented that the rescission of DACA would actually harm the U.S. economy because most undocumented immigrants today are pursuing a higher education and actively working.

Julio Mendez, a 3rd year Political Science major and Legislative Advocate at the EVP Office, said that this phone banking event’s purpose is to keep the Trump administration accountable for its promise on passing the DREAM Act, which will grant undocumented immigrants “8 years of provisional residency and pathway to citizenship.”

There also will be phone banking events every Friday, from 12-3PM at Kerckhoff Patio. Each week will focus on a different state or federal legislative issue, including Title IX protections and immigration policies.

If you are an undocumented Bruin you can use this link to find more information and support from the university.

If you wish to support the rights of undocumented immigrants, you can call your Senator/Congress Representative or anyone listed here to state your support (sample script included) for the rights of undocumented immigrants.

 

Correction: It was previously stated that the phone banking event every week will focus on different immigration policies. However, the event focuses on a variety of issues such depending on what is occurring state or federal legislature. These corrections have been reflected in the article. 

South Asian. Lived in East Asia. International student. Daughter of immigrants. South campus major. Where is the “artist” in these labels? Where is the Disney Princess movie being made about my life?

Are the mammoth residential buildings housing hundreds of families in Hong Kong not worthy of Walt Disney’s magic broadcast worldwide?

As a young Indian girl who grew up in Hong Kong, I struggled to find the words I needed to express myself. Silence was easier, except when trying to guess what dinner was from the spices’ aromas in my mom’s kitchen, or trying to guess what my dad brought from the roadside stalls after a long day at work. Having ju cheung fan right before a dinner with paneer tikka masala was not uncommon at home. The intensely different textures and tastes were second nature to my mouth. Yet the defiance of my mom’s cooking or my existence was not ever worthy of celebration in a city where Brownface is prevalent throughout mainstream media. My parent’s murtis and rituals during Diwali were too “foreign” and “weird” for “Asia’s World City”. For that young girl, I threw myself into INDUS at UCLA in hopes for a space to celebrate my messy identities and to find the words that I could never find even amid calligraphy during Chinese New Year, or henna (ha…) patterns adorning my hands.

The United States of America is no better.

The land of opportunities, filled with diversity, was sold to me at a UCLA information session. Yet here, it became even harder to determine my identity. I never expected to be so sharply pigeonholed into the paths of either doctor or engineer. Nor did I expect the persistent, probing question, “but no, where are you really from?”. The competing Cantonese, Hindi, Sindhi and English always leaked a “foreign” accent that can’t be “hella” enough. I was still too “weird” for this place.

What is the purpose of a “cultural melting pot” when all we do is tokenize the members of it and feign representation; it’s really just a chamberpot of lies and further disempowerment.

Whether in predominantly white spaces, or AAPI spaces, I am told that my narrative does not matter; that the narrative of my resilient grandparents, who all fled religious persecution 70 years ago does not matter.

Every day as a South Asian in the diaspora is a struggle that is unacknowledged. Even writing for Pacific Ties Newsmagazine that chose to rebrand itself from AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) to APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) is a tip of a hat to that struggle of the expression that we try to bring forth.

I am in awe of the resilience of the artists that are coming to the first ever UCLA South Asian Art Week, and I am in awe of the students I have worked with in the past six months to make this series of events happen in a world where fundings for the arts has decreased even more.

For that young girl in me who was unsure of how to express herself, I will try to wipe her tears when she realized she would have to work thrice as hard to express herself as an Indian, as a girl, as the kid who was labelled the “foreigner” in her Chinese local school.

You finally get to hear from successful authors that look like older versions of you in a publishing panel on May 31st.

Here’s to my best friend Christina, who dragged me to every art gallery as I slowly fell in love with contemporary art created by people of color, who resisted conforming to stereotypes of banality and lack of creativity. She made this happen for me in a city not known to be “cultured enough” for the arts. She made this happen when conversations about diaspora are always America-centric or Euro-centric, and I struggled to find a place for myself.

Come to the artist mixer to meet South Asian artists, performers, actors and create community with them on June 1st.

Here’s to the third culture freshman who was enthusiastic to embrace diversity and was looking for community to bring back expression to her life and the lives of so many of her friends, who forgot it at all as they paved their own ways towards being doctors or engineers. We were never just scientific professionals. Let’s reclaim the arts from the ostentatious monuments created by centuries-dead kings, and breathe life into ourselves to create more art.

We speak now on May 31st during a spoken word night, and we celebrate the films created by our peers in a film festival on June 2nd.

Here’s to fighting the fractures in our own community, to fighting APIDA hierarchies to actually elevate Desis within this strange encompassing label, and to resisting power structures that stamp down on the hands and labour of people of color every day, whether it is on this campus or beyond.

Here’s to the stories that were “too mundane” or “too ethnic” to make the final cut in the galleries, the publishing lists, and the performances.

Here’s to always celebrating the diasporic identities we have found for ourselves, whether temporarily or permanently.

Join us in our journey to create community for generations of the past, present and future.

Join us Week 9 for the inaugural UCLA South Asian Art Week.

Despite UCLA’s Principles of Community proclaiming that diversity is essential for the university’s excellence, it is hard to ignore the informal separation experienced by international students. Not only are international students likely to have social circles that are predominantly foreign, but these circles also tend to be limited to one’s ethnic or national group. This phenomenon is especially prevalent among students from Asia who often feel self-conscious of assimilating due to language concerns and are stereotyped as sticking to their own.

As recent politics points towards a more nationalistic bent in foreign policy, international students may experience further alienation. This is more than a feeling; the numbers reflect these concerns. Despite the ever-rising number of applicants to U.S colleges, this last admissions cycle was marked by a significant shrinkage in one demographic pool: international students.

According to a survey of 250 American universities conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and four other educational organizations, 39% of colleges experienced an overall decrease in the number of international applications at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

At UCLA, the outlook is more optimistic. International applications to UCLA have increased by 1.8%. Although the exact number of applicants is not publicly available, when compared to data from the 2015-2016 application cycle, this estimates to 17,697 applicants: an increase of approximately 300 students.

However, this growth pales in comparison to previous years. Within the last decade, the average rate of increase in international applications was 24.8% per year. Although application rates have slowed in recent years, decreasing to 6.5% in the 2015-2016 application cycle, a growth of 1.8% is unprecedentedly low.

Data was obtained through UCLA Admissions website and compiled by the author into this graph.

Correlating with this trend is increasing immigration restrictions issued by the U.S government, notably the two executive orders issued in January and March of this year. The executive orders issued by President Trump banned U.S entry of citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from the Middle East. In line with AACRAO’s survey data, 39% of participating schools reported a decrease in undergraduate applications.

Despite the Middle East being the only region affected by legalized travel restrictions, the survey also reports a decrease in applicants from Asia. Undergraduate applications from India and China have fallen at 26% and 25% of colleges, respectively. At the graduate level, 15% of universities report a decline in Indian applicants and 32% for Chinese applicants.

South and East Asia have been a long-acknowledged hotspot for recruiters. Indian and Chinese students constitute nearly half of students on F-1 visas in the U.S. The three most populous undergraduate foreign student groups at UCLA come from mainland China, Korea, and India, constituting around 77% of the international student population and 9.1% of the total undergraduate population.

Data was obtained through public data available at the University of California website and compiled by the author into this graph.

It is uncertain whether the political climate is responsible for less international interest. Rising cost of college tuition, as well as the expenses of living abroad, could be a potential factor. The 2015-2016 application cycle also showed significantly less growth compared to years prior. Foreign policy’s true impact on international student application rates can be properly assessed in the successive years of the Trump administration.

Whatever the numbers may be, the atmosphere of concern among international students is palpable. First-year cognitive science major Dorothy Duan remarks that “some people in China are afraid that there will be restrictions on entering into America” and that there is already a sense of greater rigidity upon airport entry. She notes that when the travel ban came out, there was heated talk on Chinese news and online media on how the new law could affect Chinese visitors to the United States.

Duan, who is originally from Tianjin, came to UCLA for a new life experience. Despite this, she finds that international students tend to cluster into their own ethnic communities. When asked about how UCLA has responded to the travel ban, she believes that “there is no effective or strong communication between students from different countries” and hopes that campus organizations catered towards international students, such as the Dashew Center, can bridge this gap.

Issues of xenophobia and immigration affect all international students, regardless of whether a specific region is targeted.The international student population is beginning to recognize their varied, but fundamentally similar concerns as potential common ground for collaborative resistance with the Muslim community. Whether this potential comes to fruition remains to be seen.

 

Hui O’Imiloa (Hawai’i Club) at UCLA has been hosting an annual lu’au for the past 31 years, and this year is no exception. By showcasing contemporary and traditional hula, the Hawai’i club brings the Hawaii experience to Ackerman Grand Ballroom. In addition to traditional Hawaiian dance, this year will also feature Tahitian, and Maori (New Zealand) dances.

In Polynesian culture, a lu’au is historically an important feast marking a special occasion. The word “luau,” in Hawaiian, is the name of the taro leaf, which is typically cooked like spinach. Now, people still have luaus to come together to eat, sing, and dance.

Hui O’Imiloa means a group of adventurers or explorers, something the club members have embodied as they explore Hawaiian culture. Many do not have direct ties to Hawai’i or the Polynesian culture but still are welcome in this space. Fourth year, Angela Nguyen has been in Hawai’i club since she was a freshman because she wanted to find a space on campus that would allow her to continue hula dancing. Nguyen is now Hawai’i club’s financial co-vice president and has been preparing for the annual lu’au for the past year in hopes that students will learn a lot about Hawaiian and other Polynesian cultures.

“Not only do we perform traditional chants and dances, but also we explain the stories and the meanings behind them” said Nguyen.

Second year external vice-president, Erin Murashige is from Hawai’i and knew that before starting school that she wanted to join the club. “The club also allows me to continue to dance hula with amazing people while I am in college,” said Murashige.

Hawai’i Club’s 32nd annual Lu`au – Nohea will be held in Ackerman Grand Ballroom on May 6th from 5-9pm.

“We want to showcase authentic culture, from the costumes and decorations to the music and performances. We also hope to dispel a lot of the stereotypes surrounding Hawaiian culture (e.g. coconut bras and grass skirts) by showing that there is so much more to it than is portrayed in the media,” explained Nguyen.

In addition to dancing and ukulele performances, a traditional Hawaiian dinner will also be served.

“We are trying to showcase what a luau in Hawai’i would be like with entertainment, food and a feeling of aloha. I hope that students who attend will enjoy the experience and learn more about the culture,” said Murashige.

You can stay updated with all of Hui O ‘Imiloa’s events through their Facebook page, Facebook group, and YouTube channel

Han Kim was in the fourth grade when his mother unexpectedly picked him up from Hancock Park Elementary School on April 30, 1992. The UCLA alumnus would soon realize the Los Angeles riots, or Sa-I-Gu, that consumed Koreatown was only the beginning.

Four LAPD officers were acquitted for the beating of a black man, Rodney King, on April 29. Riots quickly spread across what was South Central LA and into Koreatown, lasting for three days. The riots came with tremendous loss: 55 deaths, 12,000 arrested, and over $1 billion in property damage, $400 million of which was to Koreatown shops.

Once the riots subsided, the Korean American community quickly rallied and marched through Koreatown, calling for peace and condemning the injustices that occurred.

“This [was] something right to do. … We want people to be heard. [We want] justice, equality, reparations for this riot,” said UCLA alumnus Kevin La when he participated in the demonstration as a first-year student.

Simultaneously, the riots forced the community to self-reflect on its social and political positions in relation to American society. The riots made them realize their invisibility.

“At that time, in ordinary Angelenos’ mindsets, Koreatown didn’t exist as a public space, as if it didn’t belong to the U.S.,” said Kyeyoung Park, an associate professor of anthropology and Asian American studies at UCLA. “We had a Korean American community, but it was not read as really an American community.”

Being a part of American society required more than selling goods, as noted by Angela Oh, a prominent spokesperson for the Korean American community following the riots, in a 1993 New York Times article. Korean Americans needed to engage in American politics and with other communities.

“[Many Koreans] did not want to become American citizens. No one claimed Korean American-ness. They were very proud of being patriotic Koreans. [But] when Sa-I-Gu happened, it really became a turning a point, a wakeup call, a watershed event. … Economic success alone is not [good enough],” said Edward Chang, professor of ethnic studies at UC Riverside.

Korean American historian and activist Philip Ahn Cuddy expressed, “Let’s say with voting – ‘We’re Koreans. We’re voting as Koreans’ versus saying, ‘We’re Korean Americans. We’re part of the political system. We need representation. We need community leaders and government leaders.’ The younger [generations] are the ones that said we need [the latter] to become empowered. … To become recognized, we need to have a platform that’s American.”

Many 1.5- and 2nd-generation Korean Americans established new organizations immediately following the riots. Organizations such as the Koreatown Youth and Community Center and Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance attempted to address post-riot needs and build connections to acquire resources. Others began establishing partisan organizations such as the Korean American Democratic Committee.

Koreatown still has a ways to go in terms of politics, according to Chang. The neighborhood is part of multiple city council districts, which has very few Korean Americans in council seats.

“In terms of political profile, Koreatown is still divided into four city council districts. It hasn’t changed. … There’s a great need for the Korean American community to organize and make Koreatown run city council district. Therefore, we can elect Korean American representatives as city council members,” added Chang.

However, socially and ethnically, Koreatown changed. It has become a popular location for socializing and food, filled with English signs and people of different backgrounds. It is far from invisible for any visitor.

“Koreatown is really a place to go for a lot of young people, regardless of your ethnic and racial background – all you can eat barbecue, K-pop, Korean wave. It’s becoming a mecca for younger folks to spend the night life,” Chang said.

Park said, “Koreatown became a really multiethnic and multiracial neighborhood. I think [the riots] really changed everything, politically and then also socially.”

UCLA Pacific Islands’ Student Association (PISA) hosted its 3rd Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night at Ackerman Grand Ballroom on Saturday, March 11, 2017. The evening consisted of an authentic Samoan dinner catered by Kumar’s Island Market/Boutique Samoa Market in Anaheim, Calif. and traditional cultural dances and music of the islands of Polynesia.

Cultures featured during the night included those of Maori, Hawai’i, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, and Tonga.

Students of UCLA PISA and Hui O ‘Imiloa – Hawai’i Club at UCLA performed, along with members from other organizations outside UCLA. Some of these other organizations include Tupulaga (Carson, Calif.), CSUF South Pacific Islander Student Association, and UCR Pacific Islander Student Alliance.

Performance by Tupulaga.
Performance by Amelia Vernon.
UCLA PISA’s 3rd Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night.

Informational poster boards on the cultures of the islands represented during the show were also displayed.

Informational board of Aotearoa.
Informational board of Tahiti.

The 3rd Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night was hosted by Keali’i Troy Kukahiko, a graduate student in UCLA’s Department of Education. Kukahiko expressed his appreciation of Polynesian Arts & Culture Night as it reflected the growing and thriving community of Pacific Islander (PI) students at UCLA. In contrast, Kukahiko described his undergraduate experience at UCLA as isolating, being one of eight PI undergraduate students.

Although the number of PI undergraduate students at UCLA has grown, the community continues to be underrepresented and underreported. The program for the 3rd Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night included a description of UCLA PISA stating that Pacific Islanders make up less than one percent of the student population at UCLA.

On UCLA’s online campus profile, Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicities are grouped together, claiming to make up 32.1 percent of undergraduate student enrollment as of Fall 2016. UCLA’s reported facts reflects the problematic data aggregation of Asians and Pacific Islanders that contributes to the masking and erasing of specific issues and challenges that Pacific Islander students face in higher education.

During the evening, Kukahiko remarked that the students in UCLA PISA performing during the night were “not just performers but activists.” In actively serving and building its communities, UCLA PISA outreaches to PI students in Los Angeles schools, helps PI students come to UCLA, provides a support system for the PI community at UCLA, and more.

While Kukahiko closed the show saying that the event “wouldn’t be a culture night without [the audience’s] love and presence,” the 3rd Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night would not have been possible without UCLA PISA’s dedication to raising awareness about Polynesian culture through sharing the beauty and resiliency of its communities. 

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