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APAHM: 腊八蒜 || Series 3

Series 3 of 5. 

Perry Fabi Jr. 

FIELD: Dance/Urban choreography

TIME IN FIELD: 10 years

COMFORT FOOD: beef sinigang with a bowl of rice :)

"I take [my roots] with me in whatever I do or where ever I go and try to remind people to do the same. Our history has so much culture tied to it and our history is what makes us who we are today."

What was it like for you growing up as an Asian American?

 It was like being the understudy of a show at all times. I feel like as an Asian American, we are never in the spot light, which definitely has its positives and negatives. People are not always watching our every move, waiting for us to make a mistake. On the flip side, we never gain recognition for the great things we have accomplished. I have learned to appreciate it though and I feel like it has definitely kept me humble.


What’s something you’ve learned about yourself that you love as a result of practicing your work?

 I have learned that I can accomplish anything that I put my mind to. I live by the motto “If you believe it, you can achieve it.” Meaning that if I believe that I am taking the necessary steps to achieve my goal, then success will follow. It is not about waiting around wishing for something to happen, it is about take action.

 

What’s something you’ve learned about your Asian heritage as a result of practicing your work?

 I have learned that I am persistent and will not stop until I achieve my goal. Our parents worked so hard for me to live my best life. They endured so much struggle and hardships but never gave up on their dream. No matter the hurdle, they always found a way to overcome it. That is definitely the biggest thing I have learned about my Asian heritage as I continue to become the best I can be. 

 

What was/is your favorite failure?

 I never fail. LOL just kidding.

My favorite failure is all of my failures. I’m not the type to dwell on the past. I am the type to learn from my mistakes and use my mistake as an advantage for next time. As a director of Mozaic, an urban dance team based out of James Madison University, we were never looked at as the most competitive. We would always fall short of placing in the top 3 and would sometimes end up last. That never stopped us though, we learned what we did wrong from my Freshman year and turned all of our failures to trophies, winning and placing at all of the competitions by the end of my Senior year.

 

What was/is your favorite success?

My favorite success has to be bringing different communities together that would not have ever crossed paths. As a director of Mozaic, I tried my best to recruit based on skill and not on color. If you look at the history of Mozaic, it started as an predominantly black dance group who could not fit the mold of a skinny white blond. Then it radically changed to be a majority white by the time I joined the team. By the end of my era, it was hard to tell what the majority was but I know for sure Asians had respectful representation on the team.

 

How do you take pride in your identity as an Asian American?

I take pride by always remembering my roots. I never forget where my parents and grandparents came from. The struggle they had to endure as well as all of the successes they have had in their lives. I take that with me in whatever I do or where ever I go and try to remind people to do the same. Our history has so much culture tied to it and our history is what makes us who we are today.

 

At what point did you realize that your participation in your field as an Asian American would mean that it would be a different experience than that of someone that was Caucasian?

 To be honest, I feel like we would have gained more support from my college if we had a more predominantly white team. More people would have watched our shows if we had more white girls on the team, but because we were a mixed group, not many people cared to listen to us when we were out there promoting our shows.

 

What do you want to see in the future for the next generation of Asian Americans?

To never lose sight of your goals. Our parents and grandparents had a goal in sight at all times and never stopped until they reached it. It is our duty to do the same because I know for a fact, we are part of their dream.

 

JooEun Yoo

FIELD: Brand Communicator & Designer at JST.B

TIME IN FIELD: 5 years

COMFORT FOOD: Kimchi stew (Kimchi jjigae)

"The fact that I am Asian American allows me to experience different cultures and hold different expectations from others. I always try to exceed those expectations so that the standards people demand are blurred into seeing who I am beyond that title of being an ‘Asian American’.

What was it like for you growing up as an Asian American?

 I was born in South Korea, but moved to the States with my family when I was 4 years old. Imagine being surrounded by people that looked like you and talked like you, and then suddenly seeing all of that change. We first moved to Florida, and back then, I might have been one of the only Koreans in that school. In the beginning it was a bit hard to merge into the culture because of the language and such but eventually it became natural. We eventually moved to Maryland in Middle School and that was when I started seeing more Asians. But the funny thing is, it was sometimes more difficult being surrounded by Asians because there was more comparisons and people had a certain expectation of Asians in general that sometimes didn’t fit into who I felt that I was. However, as time went by, I started to realize those things could be my positive differentiators.    


What’s something you’ve learned about yourself that you love as a result of practicing your work?

 I learned that I am a curious person. I am someone that wants to dig deeper and stretch wider than others to get the best results. My passion for people has grown as I developed relationships with my clients. It is important for me to fully understand my clients before I begin my work.

 

What’s something you’ve learned about your Asian heritage as a result of practicing your work?

I learned that there is such great diversity and uniqueness that needs to be embraced by people. Knowing and taking pride in your Asian heritage allows for others to gain a competitive advantage amongst those around you. My heritage is another bridge to building my story.  

 

What was/is your favorite failure?

My favorite failure would have to be the failures of others. There were times I would trust people without any cushion. I learned early on that people will not always follow through and people will not always have your best interest in mind. However, this allowed me to create strategic boundaries that enabled JST.B to be a brand that stand for people that have integrity to their work.

 

What was/is your favorite success?

 My favorite success has to be the time I saw one of my clients expand their business. I like to keep good relations with my clients. It is always good to see them taking off and grow their passion.

 

How do either of those (success/failure) tie into your identity as an Asian American?

My identity as an Asian American was refined by those things because I was able to see that people are the core of everything. The fact that I am Asian American allows me to experience different cultures and hold different expectations from others. I always try to exceed those expectations so that the standards people demand are blurred into seeing who I am beyond that title of being an ‘Asian American’.

 

How do you take pride in your identity as an Asian American?

I pride in the fact that I could experience and understand both cultures. I love my Asian heritage and I love my American upbringing, but I am also very proud to uniquely categorize myself as Asian American. As an Asian American, I am able to define what that is and what I stand for. I am not limited to one or the other! 

Also, JST.B is in the works of gathering Asian Women and talking about empowerment and just being you. We want to create opportunities for Asian women of all ages to inspire each other to stand together and stand for something.

 

At what point did you realize that your participation in your field as an Asian American would mean that it would be a different experience than that of someone that was Caucasian?

 

I always knew that I was different but I didn’t always think different was bad. Being a Young Asian Woman Entrepreneur, I knew that I would have some hardships, but early on, I decided to challenge that thought and embraced the idea of creating a path that fit me. Being young was beneficial because I knew what was on trend and was on top of technological skills, being Asian meant I had insight into a culture and language some might not have, and being a woman allowed me to connect empathetically to others and allow the project to flourish with detailed precision.

 

What do you want to see in the future for the next generation of Asian Americans?

 I would love to see the next generation of Asian Americans supporting one another and building upon each other. I would like to see Asian Americans standing for something boldly and creating movements that enable positive changes world wide.

Just be you!

– JST.B

Contact her at: JST.B Experiencial Branding

Maggie.jpg

Magdalene Koo

FIELD: Mechanical Engineering/Photography

TIME IN FIELD: 4 years each

COMFORT FOOD: The Simple answer: Soy sauce chicken wings
the answer with a story: My mom makes this amazing marinade by dumping literally any red/brown sauce (ketchup, hoisin, soy sauce, WORCESTERSHIRE) in the kitchen on top and slathering it all over. It sounds like a weird mix, but it is amazingly delicious, and something only an Asian American household would think of creating considering the western/Asian sauce fusion. Plus we eat it with white rice. 

 

What was it like for you growing up as an Asian American?

         Simply put, I didn’t like being Asian American.  I grew up in predominantly white and African American settings, and was very much the minority at church, school, and extracurriculars.  I saw myself the same as my friends so would get confused when I noticed differences between how we were raised.  For example, my parents didn’t quite get the purpose of playdates or sleepovers, drill me on multiplication tables, and sounded different when talking to my friends (I later realized it was because they were speaking only in English to them, versus the Cantonese/English mix they would use when talking to me). At the time, I only saw these differences as things that made me weird and stick out, so I didn’t like it.


What’s something you’ve learned about yourself that you love as a result of practicing your work?

         Through both fields, I’ve discovered that I’m very meticulous; I like things to work well and look nice. In engineering projects, I always think of ways a test or design could go wrong, and find ways to prevent it from happening.  Or contemplating how a design could be made better to be more efficient.  In photography, I can spend a very long time photographing the same thing (sometimes to the annoyance of the people with me) changing minor details until I get the perfect shot.  While a hindrance if I let myself get carried away with it, I’ve come to rely on my meticulousness when making anything to help me know that I made the best thing I possibly could.

 

What’s something you’ve learned about your Asian heritage as a result of practicing your work?

         Engineering and photography both require a lot of work in order to do well, but I realized that putting in the work was never difficult for me.  I’m not the smartest engineer in the class or an exceedingly talented photographer, but I found by putting in the time to practice and study, I can become better in the respective fields.  I credit this trait to my parents, who grew up with little money but worked hard to get themselves where they are now.  As immigrants, they came to the US with little connections, but understood that hard work always pays off. Since I was little, my parents have always emphasized this importance of working as hard as one could, and I’ve seen this lesson help me in my work time and time again.

 

What was/is your favorite failure?

         Up into college, I participated in competitive gymnastics. I genuinely love the sport, but wasn’t too fond of the competitions and the pressure associated with them.  I hated that months and months of practice narrowed down to five minutes of competition, and I didn’t fare well under that knowledge.  At my last gymnastics meet, I really didn’t want to be there, and was not in the correct mindset to compete.  On my first event, I sprained my ankle very badly on a vault.  While embarrassing as it was, I thought could push through and continue competing, at least on the bars since you don’t really need your feet to do it right?  Turns out, your feet still matter, evident in my amazingly low 4.8 out of 10, which remains to this day the lowest score I have ever heard of someone getting at a gymnastics meet while doing the entire routine. 

         I find this story a bit humorous now, but I learned so much from this experience.  I think the best failures are marked by the most meaningful lessons attached to it, and that certainly was the case here.  It really proved to me the importance of doing what I loved.  I competed out of obligation to my parents and my club, but I really did not want to be there.  It was amazing how a sport I enjoyed so much quickly became a drag, and I didn’t want that to happen with anything else I did.  I now make myself evaluate what I’m doing and question if it is something I really love doing and if it is worth investing my time into.

 

How do you take pride in your identity as an Asian American?

         I have come quite far in my Asian American identity from not liking being Asian when I was younger. I learned to take pride by sharing and hearing from other Asian Americans and seeing that I was not alone in my experiences.  It became clear that we were a unique group of people that had a pretty awesome (and sometimes funny) upbringing.

I also learned to take pride by sharing my culture with others.  It was only after I was able to take friends to eat dim sum that I realized I am extremely fortunate to be raised eating such delicious food all the time.  Being able to order in Cantonese, explain all the dishes, and seeing them get excited about shrimp dumplings or pineapple buns helped me realize how cool my culture is.  Taking a Chinese class in college and (finally) learning how to speak Chinese properly also made me have a greater appreciation for my language.  There’s so many phrases and feelings you can only express in Chinese, and it is so fun to explain one to a friend when a situation perfectly conveys it. 

 

At what point did you realize that your participation in your field as an Asian American would mean that it would be a different experience than that of someone that was Caucasian?

         I first realized I was different as an engineer after looking around in my first college engineering class and realizing there were few people who looked like me.  I was not only Asian American, but also female, and I was distinctly aware that I was a minority twice over.  I don’t think people intentionally treat me any differently, but I’ve always found that in projects, I have to work a bit harder to prove my worth.  I have to show that my ideas are valid and worth pursuing, and that I actually am here to do engineering work, not take the meeting minutes. I didn’t really think about this in the real world though until I visited a engineering company for a meeting.  In a room of around forty, only two were minorities (me and one other African American) and only five of the forty were female (though not all were engineers).  In that moment, I realized that being an Asian American, female engineer is fairly unique and making my mark in a largely white, male field would be difficult.  That being said, I believe it will be a worthwhile pursuit since I have much to add to the industry, and my unique perspective and background allows me to develop ideas that are worth looking into.