for the Celebration,
Examination, Education and
Exploration of Asia and Asian
PanAsia 2001 Awakens
convened April 6 - 14 at the University of Chicago to cry, laugh,
share, and learn about Asia and Asian America. A
blockbuster extravaganza, it was not one, but a week of 19 events
each attracting hundreds of attendees.
Chair Jay Monteverde says, "One of the greatest concepts behind
PanAsia is unity. As individual organizers, we can only do so much.
But with PanAsia, we can shout together in a unified voice that
people of Asian descent are three-dimensional human beings, with
stories and histories that reflect the full range of human experience.
We will celebrate, learn, and teach about our lives, our experiences;
we will not be relegated to two-dimensional stereotypes; nor will
we remain the invisible, nameless `other` any longer."
Team's correspondent Cathleen Tsui, an organizer of PanAsia 2001
coordinated stories for AsianConnections, including this feature
by Amy Paul, of the Asian American Institute.
A Night of Poetry, Passion & Politics
by Amy Paul, Asian American Institute
2001 - the second annual celebration / exploration / inquiry of
Asia and Asian America at the University of Chicago opened with
introductory remarks by Committee Chair Jay Monteverde.
remarked that as a child when his peers poked fun at "slant-eyed"
Asians, he didn't know why, but could never laugh.
2001 shed light on the categories of Asian and Asian American, by
looking beyond the black/white paradigm to create spaces for expression.
the diversity of stories and histories, PanAsia 2001 featured the
shared experiences of many Asian Americans such as being an immigrant
or the child of immigrants, bearing the image of certain stereotypes
and homogenized identities, and ultimately resisting within while
also contributing to the dynamic spaces, cultures and third, fourth
and fifth dimensions of Asian America and America.
following the opening ceremonies, guests sampled a varied array
of Asian cuisines in the University of Chicago's International House.
a crowd of 300 experienced "The Spoken Rhymes of Asian America",
an evening of poetry and politics, performance and dialogue, with
acclaimed Asian American artists from Chicago, the San Francisco
Bay Area and Seattle.
American poetry/hip-hop groups included: I Was Born With Two Tongues,
P.A.C.I.F.I.C.S., 8th Wonder, Geologic, Garden Foundation, and DJ
through the show, the artists took a break from performing and engaged
the audience with a candid discussion of their experiences as Asian
interestingly enough, the names many of the artists listed initially
as their musical influences were not ethnically "Asian", art is
an internalizing, as much as externalizing process, simultaneously
subconscious and conscious, and thus defies categorization.
Bautisa of 8th Wonder, for example, expressed that he was influenced
by Latino culture, as his school was primarily Latino, but that
within the fluidity of his poetry, the words of his Filipino mother
are distinctively apparent.
response to a question from the crowd regarding promotion of understanding
between generations, Dennis Kim from "Two Tongues" invited his Korean
father into the conversation, via cell phone, who shared that he
was, indeed, listening and enjoying hip-hop, noting that he remembered
back in the '70s when they had disco. Dennis replied, "Oh yeah,
we sample disco."
response to another question about bringing hip-hop "back to the
community," many of the artists expressed active involvement with
community centers and artistic workshops for youth, as well as spreading
the word and encouraging activism around hate crimes.
hybridity, multiculturalism, diversity - none of these words do
justice to this upcoming vibrant art and political scene. While
each performer amazed the crowds, to inquire and to explore, the
camaraderie and solidarity expressed among the artists was inspiring,
evident in the many collaborative acts.
Some might classify this art form as hip-hop or spoken word, but
it was truly soulful story-telling at its finest, spoken from the
heart. Their stories tell of pain and suffering, of Korean comfort
women being raped during the Japanese occupation, of identity being
subsumed and erased by white culture, of foreign policy gone wrong,
of ignorance and invisibility.
the stories also tell of resistance and hope, persistence amid struggle,
survival and the possibility that one day, a more equal justice
will reign. For many, the stories brought tears and laughter, as
they echoed of familiar experiences.
was not only Asian Americans who attended; people of all backgrounds
were present, including faculty, alumni, students from UIC, UIUC,
Loyola, and Northwestern - some were avid hip-hop fans and others
were not, but regardless, all were moved.
some, the event presented a complete shattering of the stereotypes
normally associated with Asian America, and gave rise to the multiple
dimensions that have long been silenced. PanAsia 2001 continued
for nine inspiring days through April 14, with arts and scholarship,
poetry and music, film and celebration, uncovering some of the varied
faces and voices of Asian American communities and cultures.
highlighting the parallels between Asia and the diaspora, the events
were framed in a much larger context that demonstrated, for example,
how the mass migration of Asian Americans after 1965 was profoundly
tied to the multi-ethnic and multi-racial Civil Rights Movement.
Wednesday evening, April 11, a workshop titled "`Minor` Issues",
brought together minority groups on the University of Chicago campus
for an inter-community dialogue on the need for coalitions across
race, gender, religion and sexual orientation.
features included a Korean poetry reading, a Tea House with Chinese
demonstrations, a Japanese Anime screening, a lecture on the influence
of Islam in Asia, a Filipino yo-yo demonstration, an instrumental
"Veena" performance and a "Students at Risk" panel featuring international
leaders persecuted as students for their activism.
With an onslaught of hate crimes striking Chicago's Asian American
community in the past year, PanAsia 2001 arrives at time when it
is both urgent and necessary to reflect upon the struggles of the
past and to rethink the future ahead, in light of the challenges
upon us in the present.
recognizes the need to confront issues that Asian ethnicities share
in common on all fronts- of institutions and the everyday- to localize
the struggle and focus on action that can be taken in Chicago itself,
but also PanAsia never loses sight of the need for awareness and
activism across the nation and around the world.
detailed information about any of the 19 events, please visit: http://www.go.to/panasia.
All events were free (with exception of the closing party by Prophecy
Entertainment) and open to the public. Stay tuned for information
to next year's University of Chicago's PanAsia 2002!
Begun last year,
2000 under the leadership of Jay Monteverde, Coordinating Committee
Chair, PanAsia is the largest effort at the University of Chicago
to spread awareness, educate, and celebrate the stories and experiences
of Asians and Asian Americans. PanAsia 2000 also offered Chicago
19 events, with topics ranging from ethnic violence to yellow power,
art to sketch comedy, and music to poetry, with the mission of:
the arts, scholarship, music, film, entertainment, and culture
of Asia and Asian America to the City of Chicago in a concentrated
week-long collection of forums, screenings, presentations, dialogues,
lectures, performances, and other events spanning topics of heritage
and past, present day, and uncertain future.
- Raising awareness
of Asian and Asian American issues around the world.
to light the third dimension of Asians and Asian Americans, depicting
reality in both its beauty and strife.
the voices of the Asian and Asian American community.
This year, like
last year, PanAsia events were open to the public and free of charge
(with the exception of the closing party by Prophecy Entertainment).
Among the events, a vast spectrum of subjects were covered, such
as the culture gap between immigrant parents and their children,
Asian and Asian American art and music, students who are persecuted
for their beliefs or activism, Korean poetry and film, Asian American
poetry, and Asian and Asian American identity. More light-hearted
events were also featured such as a yo-yo demonstration, musical
performance, and screening of anime.
some of the events featured speeches and performances by renowned
groups and individuals, such as Korean writer Mun Yol Yi and Asian
American artists 8th Wonder, "I Was Born with Two Tongues," P.A.C.I.F.I.C.S.,
Geologic, and Dj Nirav.
"One of the greatest concepts behind PanAsia is unity. As individual
organizers, we can only do so much. But with PanAsia, we can shout
together in a unified voice that people of Asian descent are three-dimensional
human beings, with stories and histories that reflect the full range
of human experience. We will celebrate, learn, and teach about our
lives, our experiences; we will not be relegated to two-dimensional
stereotypes; nor will we remain the invisible, nameless `other`
For complete information and a list of events,
please visit the PanAsia 2001 website: http://go.to/panasia
Or, contact Jay Monteverde at (773) 315-9413.