On March 23, 2018, myself and a group of about 20 students from the Hmong American Student Association (HASA) at UW-Madison made their way to Ohio State University in Columbus for the annual Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU) 2018 Spring Conference.
MAASU is a student led organization whose purpose is to provide support, while encouraging political unity and activism among Asian American students on college campuses in the Midwest. On our very own campus, the student organization Asian American Student Union is a chapter of the greater organization. Each spring, the regional spring conference is hosted at a different partner university. This provides an opportunity for students to develop professional and leadership skills, explore Asian American identity, and network with students and professionals from across the nation.
How is this relevant to the greater campus community?
The theme of this year’s MAASU Spring Conference was Overcome: Self, Strength, Survival. This theme embodies the experiences and history of Asian Americans as we and the generations before us have overcome many challenges to thrive where we are today. Many HASA students who attended this year’s conference can attest to this theme:
Shayla Kaoher, a senior studying molecular biology with a leadership certificate, says, “MAASU was a great experience where I was able to learn about my core values and how they connect with the working world. It was refreshing to be educated by intelligent colored and Asian American speakers [who] know the challenges that we face. As a graduating senior, I hope to be an inspiring role model for younger generations and empower them to pursue education.”
For myself, my favorite workshop titled “Empowering Others” focused on leadership development, emphasizing why and how empowerment is necessary in leadership. Although the concept appears abstract, empowerment can be a powerful tool for success; it is a transferable skill that can build up communities and organizations. Here at UW-Madison, empowered students become campus leaders, who then become world changers.
For more information on the Hmong American Student Association at UW-Madison, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HasaUWMadison/
~ Caroline Gasao, CALS Peer Advisor