Conference 2014: Workshops & Gala Reflections

After getting up way too early on Saturday morning, I decided that I would walk to George Washington University from the Grand Hyatt, where I was staying. Sure, it was 1.3 miles according to Google Maps, but it was also the nicest day I have seen this year (I am from Connecticut, after all, where we have been pummeled by more snowfalls than I can actually count), plus I made the executive decision to wear my running shoes (turning off my sartorial nature for the weekend--though to be fair they were still cute sneakers). And it was a beautiful morning. My ears got a little bit cold from the breeze but the walk was stunning. It was a beautiful morning in D.C. and I'm glad I took the trek.

On my way to George Washington University.

Unfortunately, I could not attend all of the workshops as there is only one of me and there were more than a dozen workshops at any given time. However, the two I did attend were an interesting mix and relevant to my personal interests.

My age definitely became apparent in the first workshop I sat in (APIAs and the law) as the panelists, current/recent law school students from various D.C. schools, discussed the admissions process, which I have long since suffered through and survived. Nonetheless, I listened sympathetically as the panelists stressed the importance of being positive that applicants wanted to commit to law school, and on the importance of having good grades and reaching out to networks such as the APIA organizations for connections and support.

The second workshop, APIA presence in the media, included a great presentation on how APIA characters get stereotyped in the media. While this is an issue that I've thought about and written about before, it was staggering to see that the stereotypes are so prevalent that the facilitators had a slide with the name of the stereotype and an image of someone who was used to embody that stereotype. Dragon Lady. China Doll. The list goes on and on.

Facilitators Gina and Tiffany lead a discussion on different stereotypes APIA characters face.

There was some interesting group discussion about how prevalent these stereotypes were in popular media today. I listened in on a lively conversation over whether or not Dr. George Huang, from Law & Order: SVU, was one of these or not. Jury's still out on that one. Readers, what do you think?

The facilitators also have created an awesome Tumblr (currently under construction; it'll be launching next week) that you should all check out and submit to--I know I will.

The final event of the evening, the gala, was definitely what I was looking forward to the most. Delicious food! Dressing up! All of my favorite things.

Dinner was delicious! But I was too full for seconds :(

The biggest moment of suspense that evening was the reveal of the 2015 ECAASU bid: Boston! I'm already excited to see how that will turn out and relieved that it won't involve around 8 hours of travel time.

Another exciting announcement: congratulations to the 2014 Trailblazer winner, Kim Soun Ty. There were many qualified applicants and finalists, but Kim's accomplishments and dedication were really quite astounding.

Co-Director of Outreach Gar Yeung presents 2014 Trailblazer award winner Kim Soun Ty with her award.

And the speakers and performers! Listening to Cris Comerford speak was inspiring--shattering glass and bamboo ceilings alike. Maybe next time Conference is in D.C. she can be the one catering our dinner! One can only dream...

Duty called me away and I wasn't able to see Becky Lee, who I was really looking forward to seeing since her organization, Becky's Fund, is instrumental in working against domestic violence, an issue I personally feel very passionately about. So if anyone has video or updates, let me know!

Luckily, I DID make it back in time for Ruby Ibarra, who easily trumped all of the other events of the weekend as my personal favorite (yes, she even beat out the oh-so-delicious orange creme brulee). Girl can SPEAK. All of her pieces were fantastic, but her very first one definitely stuck with me, in particular the line (sorry Ruby, I may have botched it) "I wanted to be a Cover Girl so I cover girl" which is just genius in about every way. Ruby, if you ever want to work with my high school kids, holler at me!

Anyway, the young ones tell me that the after-party was pretty fun too, but since I had to go back to Connecticut at the crack of dawn the next morning (okay, 7:30, but after this weekend that was basically the crack of dawn) I demurred.

All in all, ECAASU 2014 was a fantastic experience. Thanks to all the performers, speakers, attendees, and of course, Conference and National Board. Mission Ignition: Success!

Since I wasn't able to stay for the final day on Sunday, I would love to hear from all of you! Let me know at cynthia.luo@ecaasu.org or @scluo on Twitter. And for more photos from conference, check out our new Instagram, @ecaasu!

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