Happy Father's Day!

Introduction: This past week I saw a Buzzfeed article entitled “19 Things You Won’t See Dads Do in Public,” which made me think about my Dad (aka “Poppa Fink”) and how many of those things he’s actually done in public when I was growing up. I thought about how awesome/chill/amazing he was and had an idea to do highlight the Fathers of the ECAASU National Board members.

The Board of Directors recently just welcomed the 2014-2015 National Board. There is no way that of these 30 individuals, their fathers did not influence some of them to become the amazing activists that they all are. So in honor of our dads on Father's Day, we want to share with you how our dads break the model minority myth.

-Nicole Fink, Board of Directors

As I sit here writing this post and eating a late breakfast, my dad has already been up for four hours shepherding around 11, yes, 11, middle school boys (my brother had a sleepover party last night), cleaning the pool and supervising the boys while they swim, and after they were all picked up, resuming his gardening as usual.

Needless to say, fathers do a lot, and often to little recognition. So today, we at ECAASU have rounded up a few stories about our fathers and the hard work they have put forth defying stereotypes, exceeding expectations, and all-in-all setting the standards that we strive to meet.

I hope that you all will enjoy these stories as much as we enjoyed sharing them. Happy Father's Day!

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From Danny Qiao, Campus Ambassador Coordinator; the Practice What You Preach Dad:

I wouldn't be where I am today without my dad. He instilled responsibility and provided the proper foundation for growth and leadership. He is also so humble about all his successes and ability, which encourages me to follow in his gentle footsteps. I can only wish to grow up to be half the man he is now, but he is the ideal that I strive to reach.

From Max Nikoolkan, Asian American Studies Initiative Manager; the Does His Own Thing Dad:

My father is a funny man. He has this large rotund beer belly, a lasting artifact proudly exhibiting his love for partying as he studied Fine Arts in Thailand. His broken English is endearing, more so when he laughs at how bad it is with room-resounding laughter. I know there’s a picture of him at home, showing off an Afro he grew out when he first came to America. Now, with his hair cut short and a slightly unkempt graying beard, he is practically Santa Claus’s ethnically Asian brother.

In Thailand, he is Surasak Neng Thitijumnong, the watercolor artist from Silpakorn University. In Virginia, he is a restaurant chef that makes Thai food. When at work he tells me the food he makes follows standards set by the head chef. At home, the food he cooks is strikingly beautiful, like he decided to paint every dish with a brushstroke matching every beat from his heart.

A painting by Max's father.

After my mother passed away from kidney cancer while I was in college, he began wearing those T-shirts that teenagers buy with quirky slogans or witty comments. His favorite shirt is an XL shirt with cooking stains that reads, “I’m Naked Under this T-Shirt." It’s embarrassing for me, though everyone else has found it endearing. Now a widower, my father is still a very funny man. More importantly, he is the father who has never given up. Entrenched in poverty as a child, he stole often from markets to feed his eight brothers and one sister. He moved to America on a whim and an art degree. But he has lived and loved every step of the journey, without regrets and without spite. The APIA community has this mythological image of Tiger Moms and Dragon Dads, strict parents that pressure their children in every facet possible so that they may succeed in all the ways the parents could not.

I have never felt such pressure from my father. He is, at the end of the day, just my Asian Santa Claus.

From Alice Tsui, Arts and Education Coordinator; the Happy As Can Be Dad:

My dad is the happiest person I know. Ever since I was a kid, he has always been laughing, smiling and being positive about life. When he talks about me to his friends, he tells them "my daughter does what she loves - music." He never pressured me to pursue any typical APIA career path, and I have my dad's support with me in all that I do. And that support, plus his amazing cooking, means the world to me.

From Nicole Fink, Board of Directors; the Cool As A Cucumber Dad:

Poppa Fink is pretty awesome. I’m not kidding. The man has more knowledge about popular culture and social media than I do (so embarrassing I know, my Dad is cooler than I am). The man takes selfies of his own accord. Seriously. He works a full-time job, but also does the cooking and cleaning when Momma Fink has to work at night or on the weekend.  He once danced Gangnam style in public (okay more than once, let’s be honest). But despite his silliness, this is the man who built me a farm bed for my very first apartment because all the bed frames were too big for my tiny room. The man who drags my mom up to Boston for the day to fix my printer because I broke it (normally around finals time) and then had a panic/anxiety attack about how much it’d cost me to print all my notes for finals to him on the phone.

Nicole and her father.

But my dad is not your typical Asian dad. He's no "tiger dad." Poppa Fink actually is one-half of a team (the other half being Momma Fink) who encourages me to break the bamboo ceiling. He never pressured me to become a doctor and has embraced my future career in public interest. He has taught me to be assertive, and to not take "no" for an answer. He is not silent or obedient like traditional Asian American stereotypes. To be honest, Poppa Fink can raise some serious hell. And my dad can't be the only Asian American dad who is a bad ass.

From Cynthia Luo, Blog Editor; the DIY Dad:

One thing I am incredibly grateful to my father for is the high expectations he has always set for me. From a young age to now, I have always been told and reminded that I am capable and independent. One of the stereotypes of APIA parents is pressure for their children to get married and have children, but this has never been an expectation for me. Instead, it was get a good education and a great career and do the best you can. He has always encouraged me to fix my own problems (though always offering help when needed) by setting the same examples. My dad fixes everything that's needed around, outside, and inside the house, and it's from him that I have my unrelenting stubbornness that with a bit of elbow grease and brainstorming, I can fix anything.

My father and I

From Daniel Hoddinott, Advocacy Director: the Endless Encouragement Dad

One thing that I am extremely grateful for to my father for is that he gave me the opportunity to live the life that my biological mother wanted and for letting me make my own mistakes. As a Korean adoptee I was born into a single, high school mother that loved me more than anything. Unfortunately she was unable to care for me the way that she wanted because she was heading to college and my biological father left her after he found out about the pregnancy and she couldn't tell her family. She made the hardest choice a parent can make and gave her first child away. My father (and mother) provided me with what my biological mother wanted. They provided me with happiness. He never pushed me to do something because it would impress others or look good on a college application but instead encouraged me do things because I wanted to. He never forced perfection onto me but instead encouraged me to do my best in everything and to always offer help to others. My father would let me make mistakes so that I could grow and one day become a man just like him. I celebrate Father's Day (and Mother's Day) as a celebration for my parents. I have unmeasurable gratitude for all that they have sacrificed so that I would have the opportunity at the pursuit of happiness. Everything I do is for them and I hope one day I can somehow repay a fraction of everything that they have done for me. Love you dad!