fall 2007

Towards Healthy Living
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fall 2007, XII, issue no.1
cover graphic by Cecilia Yang


8 10 12 16
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How healthy is the Stanford lifestyle?.........................................................3 Increase Pressure, Increased Stress................................................4
The A3C’s Mental Health Survey’s effect on campus

The #1 Killer of Asian Sexual Health: Silence...................................5
Do Asian students talk about sex?

communicASIANS is published quarterly by the Stanford University Asian American Activities Center (A³C). Views expressed in communicASIANS are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the A³C. communicASIANS welcomes all signed letters of opinion, which are subject to editing for length, accuracy, and grammar.
Asian American Activities Center Old Union Clubhouse- 2nd Floor Stanford, CA 94305-3064

The “Happiest” Students...................................................................6
An interview with Dr. Oliver Lin, CAPS Psychologist

Eating Healthy in Dining Halls: Is It Possible?...................................8
How to avoid the Stanford supersize me horror movie

Physical Identity: Within the Looking Glass.....................................10
Blepharoplasty and what it says about body image issues

Editor-in-ChiEf Kelvin vuong aSSoCiatE Editor Betty Pham CoPy editor Christie Cho Layout Editor Julie Kim ContributorS yi-ren Chen di dang lang liu Cindy ng Quynh Phan Betty Pham taKeo rivera tommy hotaiK sung Kelvin vuong Ze Xiao emily Zhao

Saving the World One Liver at a Time......................................................11
The Asian Liver Center’s new efforts to combat hepatitis B

An Honor Long Overdue..........................................................................12
George Leong inducted into A3C Hall of Fame

The New Asian American Activities Center................................................16
A look at the newly renovated space and programming of the A3C

Tommy Hotaik Sung- South Korea Meets North Korea............................13
South Korean President’s visit to North Korea lacks substance

Takeo Rivera- Azia Kim: An RA’s Reflection..............................................14
The aftermath of the Azia Kim incident

Kelvin Vuong- 6 Months and 1 T-shirt Later............................................15
What did we take away from the Azia Kim incident?

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Editor’s LEttEr
“We were pioneers of sort. We set the stage for all future minority groups on campus…we wanted to be a part of the action,” so said George Leong, ’46, MA ’47, Ph.D. ’52, to a group of alumni, faculty, staff, and students during the Old Union Clubhouse ballroom dedication. These words have stuck with me ever since. Now, that I am here, at an institution where the Asian Americans can no longer be counted with the fingers on one hand, am I really doing anything to help further what has been started? Am I trying to be a part of the action? Or, am I merely blending in to the background of techies and fuzzies? How am I helping to set the stage for “all future minority groups” at Stanford? Well, perhaps that’s a more ambitious goal than I can accomplish…perhaps. As we, the staff members of CommunicASIANS, worked to produce this issue, Dr. Leong’s words came back to me. In this issue, hopefully we do set the stage, even if that stage is not as all encompassing as the one set by Dr. Leong and his fellow alumni. In working tirelessly as Stanford students to find time to finish our Chem 31X problem sets, read all of our HumBio readings, conduct research in the humanities and the sciences, work out three times a week at Arrillaga gym, participate in the Stanford Dance Marathon planning committee, strive to save the environment by applying for an ASB, play both club and intramural sports, spend time with our friends, as well as maintaining old friendships, and still get enough sleep every night, sometimes we need to take a break to spend time with our oldest friend- ourselves. We often forget that WE are just as important as all those around us. This issue of CommunicASIANS does just that. Join us as we take a look at the health and well-being of Asian Americans. What problems really strike us? What can I do to stop them from occurring? Where can I get help? Do I even need help? From as far as China to as close as FloMo, from eating right to taking care of our own minds, there are resources at Stanford to improve our own well-being and the well-being of those around us. In order to be a part of the action and set the stage, we’ll need to be well.

A3C StAff
assistaNt DeaN aND Director ciNDy Ng assistaNt Director shelley taDaki aDmiNistratiVe associates yaNg lor christiaN tabiNg aim coorDiNator DiaNa austria

asiaN americaN stuDies cyNthia liao commuNity builDiNg takeo riVera commuNicasiaNs christie cho Julie kim betty Pham kelViN VuoNg

comPuter serVices steVe NguyeN Facilities coorDiNator Frosh iNterNs beiJia ma

aDeVa cha michael NguyeN bobby wei amaNDa ZhaNg emily Zhao

graD stuDeNt ProgrammiNg aDam waNg health aND well-beiNg aNDrew PiPathsouk amy yu maJor eVeNts coorDiNator laN le sPeaker series JasoN Jia JasoN lee euNice lee


Kelvin Vuong Editor-in-Chief P.S. Please e-mail me at Kelvin.Vuong@Stanford.EDU with any comments or concerns or if you’d like to become involved.
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tanford students are often described as ducks on a pond. They bob along so peacefully above the water but paddle fiercely underwater just to stay afloat. It’s time to get our feet on the ground and reassess how healthy the Stanford lifestyle actually is. Resources and help are plentiful; it’s just a matter of finding them or knowing who to turn to when you can’t handle it on your own. We’d like to help.

How healthy is the Stanford lifestyle?
Special Feature
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photos courtesy of Ze Xiao



Campus ResouRCes
Asian American Activities Center General advising and referrals to other campus resources Bridge Peer Counseling Center Confidential 24 hour peer counseling Career Development Center Advising related to career choices Office for Religious Life Advising related to religion, spirituality, and grief counseling Undergraduate Residence Dean Support and consultation for residence hall staff and crisis intervention for students Vaden Health Center Confidential one-on-one counseling with trained psychologists, stress management, and other health and well-being resources Naomi Brown, Staff Psychologist

Presence Increased Stress
Students relaxing and taking a break from studying.

A3C’s mental health survey promotes awareness of the issues affecting students


by Ze Xiao

t is no secret that the Asian American community is an increasing presence on college campuses, but with this increased presence comes challenges. Among the challenges is that posed by the model minority myth, a stereotypical portrayal of Asian Americans as hard-working, high achievers who are especially talented in science and math. Being measured against this stereotype or trying to live up to these expectations can be a cause of increased stress for Asian American students. Studies have shown that Asian American college students who struggle with stress and the resulting physical and mental impacts are less inclined to seek counseling, and if they do seek help, it is generally when their problems have become severe. In light of these facts, the Asian American Activities Center decided to assess the health and well-being of Stanford’s Asian American undergraduate and graduate students in order to inform its work and services. A working group was formed that included Cindy Ng and Shelley Tadaki from the A3C; Naomi Brown, Psychologist, Counsel4 communicasians

ing and Psychological Services: Ken Hsu, Associate Director, Graduate Life Office, I-Chant Chiang, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology; Caroline Chang, Ph.D. candidate in the School of Education; Janey Hong, post doctoral fellow in Psychology and Alejandro De Los Angeles ’07. The group devised and administered a survey that was launched in January 2007. After analyzing the data and results of this survey, the working group has been promoting awareness of the issues the survey found to be affecting the health and well being of Asian American students. In addition, in response to the findings of the survey, the A3C, has initiated a new program, the After Dark Series, which “aims to dispel misconceptions, increase awareness, and encourage dialogue about health and well-being topics relevant to Asian Americans, and to introduce students to resources on campus.” The first After Dark Series event addressed issues surrounding parental pressures, and students heard from three individuals, including two alumni and an undergraduate student, who shared their Stanford experiences and how they coped with pressure from their parents. More topics are planned for Winter and Spring quarters, including sessions on how to help friends and classmates who may be struggling. If you’d like to learn more about the resources available, visit any of the websites listed above. ■
photo courtesy of Ze Xiao

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The #1 Killer of

by Quynh Phan ave you heard? Asian students at Stanford are asexual! … I think. Actually, that’s not quite true. Life lesson #1: there are no absolutes. There are plenty of Asian students with healthy sex lives at Stanford. That said, there does admittedly appear to be a surplus of asexual Asians at Stanford. Asians who are more familiar with the words “dating,” “relationship,” and “sex” on an IHUM-level than a personal one. Perhaps even Asians who are missing out on “that’s what she said” jokes. What’s with the prevalence of Asian asexuality on campus? As the means through which we reproduce, sex is an unquestionably necessary part of our lives. Why do we insist on shying away from the topic? For the sake of our sexual health, let us dissect this matter of “Asian asexuality.” Before you think “I am not sexually active. This does not apply to me,” let me clarify that sexual health does not only apply to those who have sex. It applies to dating, relationships, general interactions beyond the platonic level. Being sexually healthy means being able to make informed decisions about both sex- whether to have it, how to have it, whom to have it with- and relationships – an intrinsic part of sex. Imagine being unable to get into a serious relationship when you’re an adult because you have intimacy issues which stem from an unhealthy sex life in your youth. Sound bad? Read on. Sex is an understandably awkward subject. It is not a proper topic of discussion- a view which society and many Asian parents have been supporting for years. The root of asexuality can first be traced to the overwhelmingly powerful force known as parents. I never had the birds and the bees talk with my parents. I learned about it through TV and movies. It’s not my parents’ fault though. Our parents are also the product of an Asian tradition which spans many generations- avoidance of sex. It’s odd to talk about sex. It’s uncomfortable. It’s creepy. Along with food, shelter, and clothes, parents provide us with inhibition. In their well-intentioned efforts to avoid awkwardness and/ or keep from becoming early grandparents, Asian parents often avoid the subject of sex. As a result, we remain ignorant. In the battle between ignorance and sexual liberation, society as a whole takes the side of ignorance. Society tells us that sex is taboo,
photo courtesy of

Asian Sexual Health

but what has every book we’ve read in English class taught us? Society imposes censorship, and it is our job as responsible members of society to combat it. The creation and use of terms such as “slut” or “ho” create dishonorable, crude associations with sex. This makes sex even less approachable in the eyes of Asians, who have been taught since birth to value respect and honor. Pair this with crude, misogynistic references to sex, which draw upon and reinforce sexist stereotypes while simultaneously disrespecting and reducing females to objects. This can certainly dissuade any talk of sex and even create an aversion to discussion of sex. Few people like to listen to tasteless tales of sexual exploits. Even fewer, I am sure, would like to emulate those who engage in this behavior. Asian parents place a huge emphasis on growing up to become a respectable person. With talk like this about sex, Asian girls most definitely do not want to be the topic of discussion, while Asian guys do not want to be the jerks involved in such discussions. It is talk such as this that creates an aversion to any open discussion of sex among Asians. In overcoming asexuality and gaining a healthy sex life, the first thing to realize is that no one else’s opinion matters. Your life is yours to make what you want of it. What’s there to be scared of? Discuss sex with your friends and people you are comfortable with. Will this make you seem promiscuous? Perhaps in the eyes of close-minded, ignorant people. An important distinction to make: seeming promiscuous is not the same as being promiscuous. You can hold onto your self-respect and become better informed about something instrumental to life – sex. Ignoring the subject does not do anything for us but breed ignorance. Ignorance creates fear. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I know I just quoted Yoda, but there is truth to the man’s words. Prolonged ignorance of our sexuality will in the long-run cause us to suffer. This applies to both those sexually inactive and active. Another important distinction to note –the simple act of having sex does not equate to sexual health. Being able to openly and comfortably discuss sex is only the first step in having a healthy sex life. ■
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photo by Julie Kim


Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is located on the second floor of Vaden Health Center.

Di Dang of CommunicASIANS

Q: A:

How have you found your experience working with students at Stanford?

Q: A:

It doesn’t seem like the majority of students utilizes CAPS. Why is that and what motivates students in the end to seek help? Right, only about 10% of the student body uses CAPS, because they seem to believe that it’s an implicit admission of weakness or a deficiency, which is not true at all. One of the things I work on with students is to reframe the notion of what it means to be strong –as the ability to reach out for help in order to get through things. If students are emotionally savvy, they’ll come in when things are going just all right, which is great and very mature. More often than not, they finally come in only when they’ve hit rock bottom, which isn’t bad. But in this case, it’s a reactive move, not preventative. It’d be nice if more people operated from a preventative stance.

Dr. Oliver Lin of CAPS


It’s been a great privilege for me. I see a lot of pain and hurt in many students, and the connections I’ve been able to make have been amazing. Students here face a lot of pressure and expectations, particularly from parents and Stanford itself, and so I think that something gets lost along the way. I don’t want to oversimplify, but amidst all this, it’s easy to forget genuine wants and needs. I have the unique opportunity to help a person explore these struggles, to arrive at a space in which they can explore away from those pressures. It’s difficult, because so much has been ingrained in them for so long: “I have to be this,” “I need to be this.” When I ask gently, “Who’s saying this, is this something you genuinely want?” That’s a priceless moment, when someone looks up at me and realizes that there could be something else at work or that there is another perspective that someone is actually interested in hearing that’s different from everyone else’s.

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photos courtesy of Di Dang

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CommunicASIANS talks to Dr. Oliver Lin of CAPS about the Asian American perspective of mental health

by Di Dang

he tragedy of four student deaths shocked campus last year as all wondered how such events could have occurred, particularly in a small community that was once heralded by The Princeton Review for its “happiest students.” In response to the growing concern over campus psychological well-being, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has been cooperating with other on-campus organizations in order to explore and improve the state of student mental health. Contributing to this issue’s theme of mental health and well-being in the AsianAmerican community, CommunicASIANS spoke with Dr. Oliver Lin, a staff psychologist at CAPS and Stanford alumnus, in order to better understand CAPS’s role as a resource at Stanford and also the unique perspectives of Asian-Americans and Stanford students on the concept of therapy. ■

Q: A:

What sorts of challenges do you face in working with Asian-American community members? It’s difficult to discuss because so many planes of Asian-American identity exist, but to paint with very broad strokes, I find that many struggle with the notion of whether or not it’s even okay to be seeking therapy. The older generations don’t view mental health separately. Intelligent cognitive capacities are heavily emphasized, whereas emotional well-being is not mentioned. Furthermore, there is a stigma against relegating personal problems to someone external. I guess my response to you is: mental health of Asian folks is not good probably, not because they’re incapable of seeking help or wanting to improve, but because they don’t acknowledge it.

Q: A:

In your opinion, what are the most common myths Asian-Americans and/or Stanford students have about therapy?

Well first is the notion that “I have to have serious serious problems before coming to CAPS.” The majority of students that come through don’t have serious serious problems. How I see it is this: very capable and intelligent students who encounter a series of significant situations that makes them feel abnormally. This applies particularly to Asian-Americans. Secondly, you can’t expect an instantaneous or concrete solution. Sometimes, it is possible to make the anxiety go away, but in most cases, there is no set 5-step protocol. The average Asian-American Stanford student has grown up with two decades worth of not necessarily dealing with emotional well-being or has been trained a certain way, which can’t be undone instantly with those ten free sessions. It takes a lot of work, but we want to explore a student’s freedom in an open way. Third, some students, particularly Asian-Americans, worry that they are taking up someone else’s spot who needs it more. As a therapist, I don’t think in terms of a pain hierarchy nor do I compare students in the way I do therapy. Whatever they bring in is important, I’m only attuned to the person sitting in front of me and what their story is. Finally, a lot of people seem to think that CAPS is “only for wackos,” when the majority of the people I see are just normal everyday folks encountering just normal series of issues that make the situation relatively abnormal. And who doesn’t go through that? I mean, even going to Stanford is an abnormal process, is it not? Having that already as a baseline . . . so anything else on top of that would push anyone over the line of “the need of having to come.”


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photos by Julie Kim


Eating Healthy in Dining Halls:
How to D avoid the Stanford Supersize Me horror movie
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Is It Possible?
by Emily Zhao ining halls are amazing. There are no mothers barking at you to set tables or force you to eat zucchini. As a freshman, I find it the perfect place to mingle, relax, and enjoy the great variety of food. At home, I never tasted Italian food, unless I went out to Olive Garden, nor ate Indian food, except at a friend’s house. Instead, I received a humble bowl of warm rice and dishes dunked in soy sauce. I revel in this diversity at Stanford/; Chinese food one day, Mediterranean the next, and Latin American styled foods any day all within a bike ride. However, behind all these savory dishes lies the deceptive question about The Freshman Fifteen, and while upper classmen can laugh at us neophytes, The Fifteen is scary. It also doesn’t help when you call home and your mother answers the phone by asking , “Will I still recognize you at Thanksgiving?” I mean, Stanford is a huge campus and biking takes a lot of my energy and calories. I even go to Arrillaga sometimes, which is more than I can say for what I did at home. However, my mother’s harping isn’t going to

pressure me to eat less or exercise more. I want a holistically healthy feeling for myself, which can sometimes mean choosing the salad without dressing over the extra dessert. Where do I start? One thing that I noticed about Stanford is that there are abundant resources. The onsite nutritionist at Vaden Health Center ( wellness/nutrition.html) can help with individual consultations, and workshops will spread the word about the importance of healthy eating. There is also a student group for eating disorders, MIRROR, which provides training, resources, and continual support for concerned students and friends in the Stanford community. However, unhealthy eating habits are more often picked up because of unconscious laziness – forgetting that our bodies need nutrition. Whether we need to gain or lose weight, eating healthy is taking life and valuing it seriously. So, exactly what should we ingest so that the intake of food is both enjoyable and well utilized by the body? The point is that we need to send the calories to the right parts of the body – the balance is crucial.

far left photos courtesy of,,

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Unfortunately, what and how we eat determines where it all goes. An unhealthy meal that is eaten too quickly can cause an overflow of unnecessary calories that your tissues cannot absorb. The love handles that overflow the waists of jeans are millions of tiny cells in the body gorged with fat that cannot be used. The general concept is to pick the right types of food that are digested slowly. The bottom line is for calories to enter the bloodstream slowly and enter the active tissues quickly so that there is none left over for the fat cells. However, cutting down on nutrients is not a healthy way to go. Instead, the diet should fill the basic food groups: proteins, produce, fats, starch, and water. At our dining halls on campus, filling those food groups should be a cinch. Take Florence Moore Dining, for instance. To fill the protein group, we could eat tofu, eggs, or milk, and there are always tons of lean meat sautéed in vegetables. We have plenty of salads and fruits to fill the produce group. As for the unsaturated fats group, we can accessorize our salads with seeds, nuts, or olives. The purpose is to go for a limited but neces-

sary amount. Then we can add lentils, beans, whole grain, and potatoes for the starch group. Of course each dining hall has its own specialty. If you ever have any questions about the nutritional values of the foods offered, the dining halls post all the information on their website ( As simple as the last group sounds, water is one of the most important groups and often substituted by soft drinks. If you are like me, you tend to go through water really quickly. However, I discovered the wonders of going back for seconds, which also includes water in my Nalgene. Who knew that eating is such a complex task? It takes forethought, guidance, and willpower to consciously work towards a healthy body. With all the other busy activities on our mind, this is probably one of last bullets on our to-do lists, which is why we are lucky to have our very own nutritionist at Vaden and MIRROR. However, instead of thinking of it as a task, think of it as a way of life. Instead of going through a Stanford Supersize Me horror movie, you can easily breeze through the year by eating healthy. Tofu and lentils anyone? ■

(Top far left) A healthy meal means picking the right types of food that are digested slowly, such as potatoes, vegetables, and nuts. (Above left) The dining halls, such as the one at Wilbur Residence Hall, provide many health options. (Above right) Picking from the salad bar is an easy way to fill your daily nutritional needs. (Above) Stanford Dining’s website provides detailed information on the nutritional values of the foods offered.

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Me, Myself, and I

Physical Identity Within the Looking Glass

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photo courtesy of

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by Lang Liu

he night before prom, my best friend spent three hours crying in front of the mirror. Nothing They’re also accused of trying was wrong. She had the perfect dress and the perfect date; she cried to mute their ethnic identity in so that the next day her eyes would order to be more ‘Westernized.’ be just puffy enough so that she would have the double eyelid fold. Now older though not necessarily wiser, she no longer cries before any usual criticisms against plastic surgery. In the big events, for she has had blepharoplasty- same way that skin-lightening in the African eyelid plastic surgery - and now the double American community makes some critics fold is permanently hers. This procedure uncomfortable, people undergoing the procedure are challenged for trying to change more than their eyelids. They’re also accused of trying to mute their ethnic identity in order to be more “Westernized.” Opponents of this view find it to be far too extreme and unrealistic. To them the issue has nothing to do with changing identities or erasing one’s Asianness, but is simply a matter of aesthetics. How can anyone oppose an individual’s personal beauty preference? While these critics rightly critique the extremism of this view - none of the people I’ve met who have had blepharoplasty would say that they were trying to be more “white” - it is important to remember that even beauty does not escape history or politics. Standards of beauty are specific to a particular culture within a particular period of time. Does the preference for big eyes and a double fold in fact reflect a desire for Western versus Asian beauty? Who are the ones that uphold this standard - Americans or Asian Americans or Asians? Critics argue that the lack of prominent Asian Americans in the media prevents Asian modes of beauty from being appreciated, but where do we draw the line between societal pressure and individual responsibilities? Too much time and energy is spent on criticizing the actions of the individuals receiving blepharoplasty. Instead, we each need to take a more critical look at the norms and recognize the assumptions of what is beautiful that we as a larger society are all operating under. Can we accept them as they are? If we continue to just criticize without thinking about the deeper implications about why we are even bothering to criticize, we benefit no one. Everyone is beautiful- on the inside and outside.■

is the most common cosmetic surgery performed on Asian Americans, and it’s an issue generating far more controversy than the

In Qinghai Province, China, the Asian Liver Center educated local officials, teachers, and parents about hepatitis B and provided free vaccinations.


photos courtesy of Asian Liver Center Fall 2007.indd 13

aving the World One Liver at a Time
by Yi-Ren Chen s the group hiked up the shallow cliff onto a dusty road, they could see the rolling grasslands surrounded by smooth gray mountains. Herds of sheep trotted across the landscape, followed by women in crimson Tibetan robes. Their destination was a remote school in Qinghai Province, China, where they were helping with a Hepatitis B Prevention Program jointly sponsored by the Asian Liver Center and the Chinese Center for Disease Control. The program planned to vaccinate and educate over 57,000 children at 331 schools. Founded in 1996 by Dr. Samuel So, the Asian Liver Center uses a three-pronged approach towards fighting hepatitis B: outreach, education, and research. Hepatitis B is one of the most serious health problems the world faces today. It is caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), often inducing liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and cancer. Over 80% of the liver cancer worldwide is caused by chronic hepatitis B, and liver cancer is one of the leading causes of death in many countries. In the United States, 0.1% of white Americans have chronic hepatitis B, compared to 10% of Asian and Pacific Islanders. In some Pacific Rim countries, as many as 10-20% of the population are hepatitis B carriers. Fortunately, hepatitis B is completely preventable with a vaccine that has been available since 1982. Yet vaccination rates remain low

The new effort by the Asian Liver Center to combat Hepatitis B

and many people worldwide are infected from blood, sex, and maternal birth transmission. To address this issue, the Asian Liver Center initiated the Hepatitis B Prevention Program on September 5, 2006 to educate and vaccinate villages in China. Currently, China shoulders the greatest burden of hepatitis B and liver cancer in the world. One-third of the 350-400 million people in the world with chronic hepatitis B live in China, and approximately 500,000 Chinese die of liver cancer or failure caused by hepatitis B each year. The most recent program took place in the Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province, where 18% of the population are chronic carriers. Healthcare officials and volunteers went from school to school, educating the local officials, teachers, and parents, and providing free vaccinations. The Center estimates a 95% vaccine complete rate and an 80% increase in hepatitis B prevention education knowledge levels. From implementing hepatitis B strategies through government in the Philippines to Youth Leadership Health Conferences in the Unites States, the Asian Liver Center is making a significant impact and doing its part to reduce health disparities. ■ *Statistical information taken from the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University and the World Health Organization. Pictures copyright Stanford Asian Liver Center.
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An Honor
George Leong Inducted into A3C Alumni Hall of Fame


Long Overdue

photo by Julie Kim


by Cindy Ng

n October 12, 2007, on the occasion of Reunion Homecoming Weekend, George Leong, ’46, MA ’47, Ph.D. ’52 was inducted into the Asian American Activities Center (A3C) Alumni Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors Stanford’s most accomplished alumni for their outstanding achievements and contributions. Leong came to Stanford in 1943 through a special program to recruit high school students to begin their college careers before their senior year. He was one of just sixty students from across the nation who were identified as able to handle the rigors of a Stanford education. At the time, there were also far fewer students Vice Provost Greg Boardman and Hall of Fame honoree George Leong joined the A3C Direcwho looked like Leong. The small number of Asian tor Cindy Ng and Assistant Director Shelley Tadaki at the Clubhouse Ballroom dedication American students was reduced further as a result of ceremony during Alumni Homecoming. Pictured with Leong are fellow alumni who joined President Franklin Roosevelt’s wartime Executive him in donating funds for the Ballroom renovation: Ada S.Y. Tom (Fay S. Tom ‘46, MS ‘47), Order 9066, which declared all Japanese Americans Doris S. Lee (Ted Lee), Beatrice Lowe ‘45 (J.S. Lee), Helen Leong ‘48, MA ‘49, and Betty C. as enemy aliens. The Order resulted in the forced Wo (Robert C. Wo ‘46). evacuation of Stanford’s JapaneseAmerican students to various internment camps around the country. Under these circumstances, Leong understood the need first advocates for academic, economic, and social inclusion. to build a strong community. He embraced his role as a pioUpon graduation, Leong continued to be a pioneer, paving the neer and became a leading member of the Chinese Students way for those who would follow in his footsteps. In 1969, he beClub* where he worked to bring cultural understanding to cam- came the highest-ranking Asian American in the civil service syspus. He and his fellow club members organized social gather- tem when he was appointed Special Assistant to the Assistant ings, conferences and educational activities. They served as the Secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. He went on to become the Acting Director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Scientific Evaluation, Bureau of Drugs, and directed the review, evaluation and approval of all drug applications under the aegis of the FDA. Leong continues to be involved in the Stanford community as an alumnus. Viewing the A3C as the successor to the Chinese Students Club, he has supported the center with fundraising, resources, and advice. In 2006, Leong organized fellow Chinese Students Club members to raise money for the Clubhouse Ballroom renovation. The Ballroom was dedicated during Homecoming in the presence of many of the alumni donors. Through his efforts, Dr. Leong and his wife, Helen, continue to improve the experience of current and future generations of Stanford students. ■ *The Chinese Students Club formed in 1916, when a Chinese student was thrown out of Encina Hall by its Caucasian residents. Students raised funds from the local Chinese community and built the Chinese Clubhouse where the Law School now stands.
George Leong cuts the ribbon at the Ballroom dedication. Later that day he was inducted into the A3C Hall of Fame.
photo by Emily Zhao

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South Korean President’s Visit to North Korea Lacks Substance


by Tommy Hotaik Sung


hough seemingly successful, the Second Inter-Korean Summit was not only unconvincing but thoroughly offensive in its deliberate avoidance of important issues that riddle the Korean peninsula. Even the timing of the summit left much to be desired. President Roh Moo-Hyun’s excursion to North Korea was conveniently three months before the next presidential election. With popularity ratings for the presidential candidates in Roh’s party hovering around the single digits, the summit could certainly be construed, or even misconstrued, as a desperate act of diplomatic exploitation. Additionally, it was suspicious that Kim Jong-il would heed to the meeting request of Roh, who is effectively a lame duck. Because Kim understands the negative effects of inflation, it was to his

benefit that each additional summit is reduced in value and thus less likely to meet the growing expectations of his people. Coupled with the transparent negotiation process, it seems reasonable to surmise that a major gift was presented to the Dear Leader in return for his cooperation. Yet, these doubts could have been overlooked if the summit had inspired worthwhile changes in the peninsula. A positive end achieved by the wrong motives is, in effect, still positive, although it would present both sides in an unfavorable light. Not surprisingly, however, the eight point agreement instituted during the summit was only full of pleasant rhetoric and bereft of any concrete discussion in building a sustainable and peaceful regime. Take the Mount Baekdu tourism project for example, one of the new projects established on the basis of economic cooperation. This venture takes advantage of the mountain’s significant symbolism in Korean culture to suggest progress toward harmony and reunification in the peninsula. Though the goal is positive, it is reminiscent of the debacle involving the all-too-similar Mount Kumgang project: a new tourist route in a fenced, indigenously sterile region fails to establish any meaningful economic or peaceful cooperation between the Koreas. The summit also circumvented issues of practical concern. For one, there was a lack of discussion regarding the Northern Line Limit, which determines the maritime border between the nations. Frequent encroachment

handshakes & smiles
photo courtesy of

of this boundary by North Korean ships, both before and after the summit, suggests that a discourse on this important dispute was consciously avoided. It is not surprising then that the summit also chose not to address controversial issues such as the humanitarian crisis and the nuclear debate in the Hermit Kingdom. These subjects undoubtedly would have been deemed too unsavory for the hand-shaking, photo-op extravaganza in Pyongyang. In place, symbolic images of reciprocity and goodwill flooded the media: Roh’s crossing of the 38th parallel, Kim’s gift of milliondollar songi mushrooms to the south; and Roh’s enthusiastic reception of the “Arirang” mass games in all of its tragically bizarre and perhaps allegorical glory The reality is decidedly more negative; the summit, despite all of its promises and exhibition, remains strictly a political stratagem. This bleak truth is perhaps most elegantly put in the form of a colorful tableau: the image of mountebank Roh and scoundrel Kim playacting in a glittery masquerade. ■

The eight point agreement instituted during the summit was only full of pleasant rhetoric and bereft of any concrete discussion in building a sustainable and peaceful regime.

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rom the third floor of Okada, you can hear a lot. Sometimes it’s some drunk frosh roving along Bowdoin that I pray aren’t mine; other times, you get happy phone calls, arguments, reconciliations. And then there are the times you get acts of intolerance. They started off with shouts of “F--Okada” and “Azia Kim” in mock Asian accents. That was one frat. Another frat held a “banzai bash” sake party that used Azia Kim as a recurring theme, asking one of my residents if she was Azia Kim because she was an Asian American female. When yet another frat came by to shout racialized slurs at the dorm, I ran out in flip-flops with my RCC and demanded to know who they were. The last straw came when the third frat arrived to piss on our lawn with yet another “F--- Okada” shout. So much for the spirit of the Fundamental Standard. So much for this campus’ embrace of diversity. That was the untold story: the aftermath of Azia Kim. I doubt the wave of anti-Okada and anti-Asian verbal abuse would have happened if Azia was white. And of course, did I have anywhere to turn to? Not to the general student body. The Stanford Daily had concluded that the staff and I were incompetent. Online comments demanded that we be fired. Every day for two weeks, my staff, my residents and I had to answer questions from everyone: students, professors, TV cameras. I was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle and the New Yorker and declined a CNN appearance. On top of that, my residents were repeatedly told that they should be ashamed to live where they were. Did I blame myself? Yes. You see, I was the one who facilitated her move-in. In order for her to succeed, she had to lie to me on several counts. My crime is that I trusted her word. In Okada, we grew accustomed to trusting each other. At our Crossing the Line we had a nearly unanimous “feel-like-a-part-of-the-community” response— the best I had ever seen in any dorm. I was consistently running on two to five hours of sleep every night, with time spent planning events, counseling residents and placing my RA job before all other commitments, including my academics. The Okada Staff and I were intensely proud of the work we did; we collectively took our work so seriously that some of us even developed health issues from being so committed. I wasn’t a police officer. I wasn’t in the business of shaking down someone’s falsified records. So it happened... under my watch. Then again, so did the eviction. After the three of us RAs moved her out, I sat on the step until two in the morning with her, waiting




by Takeo Rivera

So what did I do? I fought. I decided to stand, if only to show that this was one Asian who wasn’t going to be passive and polite

for her ride to arrive. She cried to me, told me a life story that I knew wasn’t true, but I didn’t care. In that moment, I was doing my job as an RA. I was listening. I wasn’t demonizing. I wasn’t scandalizing. I wasn’t making fun of her or hyperbolizing her issues. I was listening. I even held her and had the gall to try to make her feel better. Still, I blamed myself. How could I not when the rest of the campus seemed to be under the impression that all of Okada staff was irresponsible? And suddenly there were three frats shouting anti-Asian slurs at our community. Suddenly there were jokes on the online comment section of the Stanford Daily disparaging Asian women. All the little intangibles that made for an amazing and life-changing year seemed all for naught. People weren’t going to remember that my staff and I got into a physical confrontation to save a freshman’s life, that we pulled all-nighters in the waiting room of the ER waiting for our residents to get better, or the countless times we laughed, cried, lost sleep, drank caffeine, watched movies and shared life stories. No. You heard “Okada” and you thought Azia Kim. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so simultaneously despaired and furious in my life. So what did I do? I fought. I decided to stand, if only to show that this was one Asian who wasn’t going to be passive and polite. My role as a community builder promptly became that of a community defender. I developed strength and resolve from forcing myself to stop caring about what the rest of the campus thought of us, focusing more on

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combating the bigotry that affected everyone. I filed an Act of Intolerance report and, with Thom Massey, confronted one of the perpetrating frats. Am I over it? Not completely. But here’s what I do know: two thirds of our staff have returned. For the first time in years, we have Okada frosh returning as sophomores, as well as a large contingent of upperclassmen. The Okada spirit somehow managed to survive and thrive in the Spring Quarter of 2007. And I’m returning, exhausted though I may be. There’s something about the job that keeps you hooked, however many nationallypublicized scandals and bigoted screams there may be. Maybe it’s the impact I can make, the co-staffers whom I love, the sense of home made from my own sweat and tears. Or maybe it’s because I want to see the confused, embarrassed faces of the arriving freshmen when I shout their names for the first time. All over again. ■ Takeo Rivera is a Senior majoring in CSRE. This year, he is both an Okada Residence Assistant and the Asian American Activities Center’s Community Building Coordinator.


What really

happened at




Months T-Shir and

1 T

La er

by Kelvin Vuong

ne Big Game t-shirt. One offense too many. One firestorm to follow. In late October, Stanford Student Enterprises began advertising Big Game Cal Sucks shirts sold by The Stanford Store. One shirt had a slogan that I was shocked to think that SSE would print: “It was either a full ride at Cal or sneaking into Stanford[.] -Azia.” I was appalled that this shirt was being sold by SSE, the financial division of the Associate Stanford Students Union, and thus had the backing of the student body. I for one did not agree, and I was sure I was not alone. From my first e-mail sent to those with the power to remove the shirt and the Stanford community at large, the complaint was lodged. There were several heated debates on many e-mail lists as the e-mail was circulated. E-mails flew back and forth from my computer as people voiced their concerns; most were in accordance. A second e-mail was sent after the first e-mail went unheeded. More e-mails were circulated and more debate followed. By the end of the weekend, the shirt was pulled from The Stanford Store and a replacement was offered. Success at last...but was it? Two days later, The Stanford Daily ran a piece about the incident. That’s when the firestorm began. The Daily message board suggested that I was alone, that I was silly to have voiced my concern, that the joke was justified. Talks began among students about making the shirt themselves. A Facebook group formed bashing Azia Kim and me. But I did not take offense. I expected most of this. What I found offensive was what I did not expect. I did not expect that students would feel that the joke was justified. Azia Kim has been a running joke on campus ever since the story broke 6 months ago. No one could utter her name without a chuckle. It is time that the joke was laid to rest. By continuing this joke, we ignore the serious implications of the incident. What drove Kim to do what she did for so long? What really happened afterwards? Why was the incident racialized? I did not expect that other students would be afraid to voice their opinions. People feared the ridicule that would follow if they decided to voice their opinion like I did. At an institution with as high a caliber as Stanford, free thought should be encouraged. So what did we really take away from the incident last school year? Did we even stop to think about what this incident implied about mental health or race? Or were we too concerned with the ‘offense’ that had taken place? Have we ever stopped to think about it? I think not. With what has happened with this t-shirt, I’m happy that we are finally starting to take a second look. ■
communicasians 15

photo courtesy of ASSU Draw Guide

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The Asian American Activities Center
What is the A3C and what can it do for you?



by Betty Pham and Kelvin Vuong

he Asian American Activities Center (A3C) is a department of Stanford University with a large variety of resources to serve the needs of the Asian American community. During this past summer, the A3C moved back into the newly renovated Old Union Clubhouse. The center covers the first and second floors of the Old Union Clubhouse, a big change from the portables where it was previously located during construction. Cindy Ng, A3C Director and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, and Shelley Tadaki, Assistant Director, lead a team of 24 student staff members to develop programming geared towards the Asian American community at Stanford. The A3C space includes a beautiful wrap-around balcony, an expanded ballroom, spacious couchroom, conference room, and computer cluster that are open to all students. Student groups may reserve space for onetime events or weekly meeting reservations through an online form located under the “Facility Information” section on the A3C website (located at, or type ‘A3C’ in your browser from a Stanford

connection). The ballroom, couchroom, and conference room may only be reserved by registered Voluntary Student Organizations. The ballroom can be used for mixers, dinners, dances, performances, and other large events. Besides the sleek hardwood floors, the stage and stage lighting can set the tone and mood of your events. If needed, tables and seating for 140 are available through the A3C. Directly above the ballroom, the A3C couchroom houses comfortable couches that serve as seating for meetings, events, and working students. The couchroom is a place for stu-

dents t o come and relax or do work. Oftentimes, a basket of goodies is conveniently placed next to the couches, a tantalizing reason to drop by the A3C space. For those student groups looking for a movie or karaoke night, the couchroom also has a TV, VCR, DVD player, and stereo for use. The couchroom includes a small side room with a walllength whiteboard, large conference table, and chairs that can be sectioned off by a divider. The Mac computer cluster occupies the same room as the A3C’s library. All students are welcome to both. The library

contains hardto-find newspapers a n d j o u rnals n o t available at the main library. In addition to the physical space of the A3C, many programs are prepared by the staff for all students. The weekly Speaker Series deals with issues about adjusting to college, Asian American identity, and preparing for the post-college life. The new After Dark Series explores taboo topics such as dealing with parental pressures and mental health issues. Quarterly leadership retreats bring the Asian American community together to explore how to better reach out to and serve the Asian American community at Stanford. To learn more about what the A3C has to offer, visit the website or swing by the second floor of the Old Union Clubhouse. ■

photos by Betty Pham

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communicASIANS fall 2007

Non Profit Org. U.S. Postage Paid Palo Alto, CA Permit No. 187

Published by the Stanford University Asian American Activities Center Old Union Clubhouse- 2nd Floor, Stanford, CA 94305-3064 (650) 723-3681
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