In its first year of establishment at UC Irvine, Pilipino-Americans in Social Studies held its first conference entitled ‘Surpassing the Stereotype,’ on March 9. The event featured workshops and lectures that focused on how to deal with overcoming societal and familial pressures and stereotypes that Asian Americans, particularly Filipino-Americans, face when deciding a major or career.
‘The main goal [of the event] is to address the issues of stereotypes that Asian-Americans face,’ said Charleen Teodoro, a second-year political science major and vice president of PASS. ‘The speakers went through the same prejudices and hardships and it helps students to know that it is still possible to be successful.’
PASS focuses on the majors in the School of Social Sciences and provides support for UCI students and Filipino communities.
‘We’re an academic group, but we also do programs that help the community, like going to day care centers to help out kids,’ said Venice Europa, second-year biological sciences major and social chair of PASS.
In a presentation entitled ‘Challenging Sterotypical Working Environments,’ Marigee Bacolod, assistant professor of economics at UCI, shared her experience of being a Filipina woman in a field that is predominantly composed of white males.
‘Thinking that there are stereotypes is a way of limiting one’s choices,’ Bacolod said. ‘It is important to keep one’s cultural identity, but at the same time not to limit yourself.’
Bacolod’s message to students was that everyone should find out what they want and not let anything get in their way.
‘Stereotypes will always exist, but you can’t let that limit your journey and you can’t use it as an excuse for not being able to do what you want,’ Bacolod said.
R.E.A.C.H., an outreach program of the Cross-Cultural Center, held a presentation, that challenged the unconscious prejudices that everyone holds. The Career Center also had a presentation, that described its different programs to help students prepare for the working world.
‘The Career Center presentation was really good because some people are scared and some people think they don’t need it, but we learned a lot,’ Teodoro said.
Afterward, Christine Dacanay, assistant director of marketing and membership at the UCI Alumni Association, and Ronald Ho, a social science counselor, discussed the family pressures that Filipino students might experience and how to deal with them.
One of the popular speakers was Florence Bariao, an alumna of UCI, who discussed the hardships she dealt with.
‘Going through life is like a game, so you have to be a better player,’ Bariao said.
Students took Bariao’s words to heart.
‘Hearing about her experiences and the hardships that she went through was empowering because it hit home,’ said Viveca Andres, second-year sociology major.
In between presentations and speakers were performances from various clubs such as the Break Dancing Club, the Chinese Association’s Martial Arts, the Kultural Dance Troupe and the Hawai’i Club.
The night reached its climax when the keynote speaker, Stephanie Velasco, shared her experiences from her days at UCI.
Velasco graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and in Asian-American studies from UCI and later a master’s degree in higher education administration from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is currently the director for the Center for Asian-Pacific American Students of Pitzer College.
‘As an Asian-American or a Filipino-American, I want to challenge you to surpass the stereotype and to recognize the historical context of the model-minority myth and closely examine that this image of success is also met with factors such as discrimination, assimilation or lost identity and even politics, rather than the docile, industrious, better-than-the-next minority image that really hurts us all,’ Velasco concluded.
The evening closed with a performance from Kaba Modern without diminishing the lessons of the night.
‘I was better able to understand the perspective of the Asian-Americans and Filipino-Americans,’ said Alan Morton, a second-year information and computer sciences major.
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