Though I was born in the golden state, I am by all means a transplant, having lived in Ohio from infancy until my early twenties. And before you ask, I will clarify right off the bat: “Yes, there are Asians in Ohio.” There are Asians in a lot of places -- though not as densely packed -- outside of stalwarts like California and New York. Though I pay exorbitant rent and taxes to live in California, my loyalty still lies with the Asian Americans who live in less diverse regions who may have to work a bit harder to get their voices heard.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to be (inexplicably) invited to speak about blogging and Hyphen at the Southeast Regional Conference of Asian American Leaders (SERCAAL) organized and held at the University of Florida in Gainesville. At that point, I had only known one Asian American who hailed from Florida (holla, Anand!) and had no idea of the student movements that are thriving in a state where 2.4% of the 18.5 million residents are of Asian descent. Hey, it still beats Ohio’s 1.6% of 11.5 million.
APIA college students from Florida, Georgia, and other areas from the southeast region (though students nationwide are invited to attend) have been gathering at SERCAAL, which serves as an “outlet for social/professional career networking, keynote speeches, captivating entertainment, and hands-on educational workshops,” since its inception in 2004. From attending last year I can say that the spirit of the students at this conference was undeniable. With a smaller Asian American population to network with, these students have this driving, resourceful energy not only to provide opportunities for their peers but to be part of the national dialogue of Asian America.
With really dedicated student leadership and advisement, SERCAAL’s 2010 line-up looks impressive. This year's theme is "Motion 3D: Discover. Define. Develop" and keynote speakers include: White House Advisor Miya Saika Chen, Boat People SOS Executive Director Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, SPARK Reproductive Justice Now Co-Executive Director Mia Mingus, and education activist Shukla Bose.
Entertainment for the conference includes YouTube star Ryan Higa and get this: hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi! I hope he talks about his arrest at Nathan’s this year.
If you’re a college student -- or if you’re old like me and have to settle for passing this info onto a young ‘un -- definitely consider attending. Registration info can be found here and you can register up until the conference date, which is October 22-23 at University of Florida in Gainesville.