Hyphen College Tour: Third Stop, Williams College

April 12, 2011

Purple Bubble, here I come!

On Thursday, I'll be hitting up the gorgeous Williams College in Williamstown as part of a month long event to honor Asian Heritage Month: Asian Americans in the Media. I'm particularly excited about visiting this school because I was told that I'd be in for a surprise when I visit this small town. Apparently it's out in the wild with roughly 2,000 students but still made it to Forbes' list as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the States. 

Just in case you're not caught up, Hyphen has partnered up with I.W. Group and McDonald’s in an effort to inform and empower campuses with its unique perspective on Asian American arts, culture and politics. With style, of course. 

Thursday evening at 7:30 pm, I'll be talking Hyphen 101 at the Paresky Auditorium. First twenty attendees get a free Hyphen issue, so come early!

Many thanks to the board of the Asian American Students in Action (AASiA) and The English Department.

Now the important part: A contest!

This is specifically for the Williams students that I'll be seeing this Thursday: Tell us what makes you Hyphen.

Let us know by submitting a comment. The best response will win a $50 McDonald's Arch Card and a fancy sweatshirt. If your response is not picked, don't fret. We'll have little giveaways waiting for you when we see you.

Poems, pictures, and any other creative responses are also welcome.

If you're interested in learning more about the Hyphen College Tour and bringing Hyphen to your campus, please contact our speaking engagement coordinator, Bena Li, at bena.li[at]hyphenmagazine[dot]com.


Lisa Lee


Lisa Lee works in User Operations at Facebook, and has more than five years of nonprofit experience in marketing and communications for multicultural arts and cultural organizations.



breaking assumptions be asian with dimension all day everyday
I hyphen by attending asian-american events on campus
Too most my last name is my only hyphen. But I am many hyphens. I'm Asian-Australian-Chicagoan-Mandarin-speaking Math-polisci major. Without these hyphens what am I?
I am hyphen because I contribute to "a more complex representation of Asian America."
I am hyphen because I want to connect identities that sometimes directly conflict with each other.
When I was in China last semester, I was American. But with a lot of doubt about that fact. To many Chinese people, it just wasn't possible that I could look like them and not be Chinese. And if I wasn't Chinese, then I must be Korean, Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Cambodian, Mongolian... American didn't even seem to be on the radar. But if you've ever heard me speak Chinese - Mandarin, Cantonese, or any other dialect - you know I'm not. But my English? Oh, it's just fine. And in the States, my identifier is Chinese. I look the part, I eat and crave Chinese food nonstop, I play piano, and with thanks to high school and college teachers, I speak some Mandarin (not that it's the language of my heritage - those would be Cantonese and Shanghai dialect - but who's keeping track?). But I was born here, I've lived my whole life here. So hyphen to me has to encompass a lot. It has to include my frustrations at rarely being just Chinese-American. It has to be me asking my friends if they like real Chinese food, because Panda Express just isn't anything like grandma's cooking. It has to be the fact that I embrace parts of America even as I reject other parts. It has to somehow represent how I didn't know children playing "squinty eyes" were making fun of people like me, because frankly, my eyes aren't all that "squinty." How was a seven year old me supposed to know that this image is one that's been attributed to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and the ever ambiguous category of Asians in an often derogatory manner. "Hyphen" has to be never forgetting that my grandfather had to buy an identity on the black market to make it over here and yes, that he started a laundromat and a Chinese restaurant like so many other Chinese immigrants. And while I may not be an immigrant or first generation, that is all part of my past. So though sometimes people say I'm more Chinese than American or more American than Chinese, I don't see why I have to pick between the two. Because "hyphen" is more than just a connecting line between two worlds and two cultures, whether it's there or not, whether I'm Chinese-American or American-Chinese or an ABC, it's about not having to choose one or another identity. So if I want to eat ketchup with my Chinese dumplings, I can. That's hyphen.
Because my identity is complicated, like my orders at Mickey D's
I'm about to graduate as an Asian Studies major, and I still haven't found one good way to explains what that means.
Because my identity is complicated, like my orders at Mickey D's
I use chopsticks to beat eggs Until they're fluffy and light Memorizing your number In Cantonese Instinctively sounds right. Still wear pajamas With Asian cartoons And there's nothing like Sipping cold Vitasoy On a hot summer noon.
I'm hyphen because it addresses my past identity as an immigrant and my present and future role as a citizen.
I am so hyphen that I worry that over-publicity of this talk will provoke a backlash against cliquish Asians on campus with their polarizing ethnic pride. I am so hyphen that I wouldn't take a McDonalds gift card and sweatshirt for fear of appearing cheap to my preppy, Wild Oats-eating friends. I am so hyphen I would not eat McDonalds in public. I am so hyphen I don't know what it means to be Asian-American. I am so hyphen that I'm annoyed I'm taking the time to type this because I should be studying.
I am hyphen because I am a dash