Dear Asian Youth, Creating a Safe Space All Asians Can Call Home


The Dear Asian Youth State College Chapter Officer Team together in the A1-Pod. Photo taken on Mon, Oct. 31 by Kaylin Snyder. Photo provided by Claire Fox.

Lisa Wang, News Editor

In light of the influx of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, Chinese-American Stephine Hu quickly abandoned the passive goal of assimilating into the US and boldly accepted her Asian heritage. Hu quickly turned to poetry, writing down the wide range of emotions that erupted from her. She posted her poems on healing, anger, and grief on a blog titled “Dear Asian Youth”. 

“Dear Asian Youth” quickly gathered an audience, many wishing to join the cause. What was once a tiny blog filled with poems rapidly grew into a community of Asians no longer willing to be silent about the inequities they face in the world.

 As the platform quickly grew, a global network of Chapters was born. What promptly followed the Chapters was the creation of a podcast, numerous viral social media campaigns, conferences, and multiple impactful initiatives. Currently, Dear Asian Youth consists of 300 core team members, 200 chapters in 18 different countries, and 110k followers on Social Media. 

Early in the 2022-23 school year, the AAPI group at State High announced the creation of a new Dear Asian Youth Chapter in State College. The State College Chapter celebrates the works of Asian creators, as well as spreading awareness of issues within the AAPI community. 

Junior Velvet Wu is a chapter lead alongside fellow chapter lead, Karen Yee. They both worked furiously over the summer to ensure that the Dear Asian Youth Chapter would hit the ground running. As chapter leads, they oversee projects and activities within the Chapter.  

“Our primary job is to organize events for this chapter and also make sure that the officers are making content and doing what they’re supposed to be [doing],” Wu explained. 

Because the team is currently on the smaller side, Yee and Wu have more responsibilities on their shoulders. Once the team grows, they will be able to focus on managing Dear Asian Youth. “Both of us are also helping out with planning projects and making posters because our officer team is pretty small. But if we do decide to expand our positions, we [would] mainly just go into management,” Yee illustrated. 

 Although there were multiple reasons behind the creation, Wu and Yee explained the importance of  Dear Asian Youth.

“It’s important to me is that I felt like I wasn’t really connected with the Asian community for a very long [time], especially during Elementary and Middle School,” Wu stated, “Recently I’ve gotten to be a part of that community more, so [Dear Asian Youth] is a kind of way to do more of that.”

Yee agreed with Wu and promptly added, “It’s a really important way to get to know other people that are a part of the same community but also live in a lot of different places and have different cultural backgrounds. To me, it’s really important to get to know these people as people and form relationships with them.”

Both agreed that the interactions with others within the Asian community and with other chapters in the area are a part of the reason why Dear Asian Youth is so special to them. 

“DAY, even though we’re one chapter, we have a lot of interaction with other chapters everywhere, so we get to talk to people everywhere. [As] Karen said, it’s cool to make those relationships,” Wu stated, following Yee’s statement on the connection between chapters. 

Working alongside Yee and Wu are the two researchers, Sophomore Claire Fox and Junior Krystal Nguyen. Fox and Nguyen mainly focus on investigating the news for AAPI-related events and bringing awareness to discrimination within the AAPI community.

“My job is basically just to come up with ideas or posts on their [Dear Asian youth] Instagram and things we can do to interact with the community, [like] movie nights, book clubs, possible fundraisers,” Fox described. “As of right now, the main thing it consists of is designing social media posts and doing research. So I have to be on the lookout for topics we might want to discuss and then do some research, interview local community members, etc.”

Nguyen agreed with Fox, describing the wide variety of topics they cover. “Claire and I both do research on different types of issues within the Asian community. We kind of gather together and post about it,” Nguyen stated.

Fox further expressed just how important Dear Asian Youth can be for students and community members in the AAPI community. 

“DAY is important because it can give Asian youths– whether it’s on a smaller scale, or just all around the world– a feeling of comfort,” Fox voiced.  “I’m not really a minority, so this isn’t my place to say, but coming from the people I know and the people I’ve talked to, it can feel really isolating – especially in the United States – to be a minority.”

“There can be a lot of things that can be applicable to you [Asians] that you can’t really talk about with your friends or maybe your family. [Dear Asian Youth] can give those kids a place of belonging and a sense that they aren’t alone in those feelings,” Fox concluded.

Nguyen had a personal take on the importance of Dear Asian Youth. 

“I feel like my voice is finally heard for once. I feel like I have a lot of say in things, [a lot of] personal experiences that can contribute to the stigmas that are around Asian communities,” Nguyen expressed. “I can finally do something to help prevent [the] stigmas from spreading and make an impact on the Asian community.”

“A lot of people in the Asian community —from my experiences— feel like their voices are suppressed because of society; It’s not really emphasized a lot,” Nguyen added. “In school, we do have Peer Advocates, which advocates for all minorities. But we really want to emphasize  Asian communities to make sure that their voices are heard, their issues heard, their conflicts are known, and they [don’t] feel like they fall in like their stereotypical minority.”

Along with ensuring Dear Asian Youth began with a strong team, Yee and Wu created a list of goals they would like to achieve. 

“Our goals are to focus on literature and celebrating the creations of Asian creators. Our first event is going to be a movie night, so that’s a community-building event. We’re hoping that people will come and get to know each other a bit more,” Wu stated. “Another of our bigger plans for this year is to start a book club where we’re going to be reading literature by Asian creators. I’m really excited [about] that personally because I need a reason to read more and to learn more about the AAPI community and the issues that affect them.” 

“When we first decided to start it [DAY] and we were talking about it, our main goal was kinda changing the book list for the school district, or at least State High,” Yee added. However, the duo quickly realized that the goal would be hard to achieve with their small team.

“For now, we’ve decided to move a little smaller and then work up to it, but that was our main goal. We decided it would be good to build up to a big goal like that,” Yee stated. 

Although they backtracked to create more reachable and manageable goals, Wu and Yee wish to see Dear Asian Youth grow into something beyond them; something that connects the AAPI community in State College. 

“The reason we wanted to start it in the first place was to create a safe space for everybody that was AAPI, to feel seen in their identity, and also for people to come and learn about what being AAPI means,” Wu exclaimed. “We’re hoping to build a community of AAPI students and people in State College.”

Yee agreed with Wu’s statement, but also acknowledged that they might not be in State College to lead the Chapter in the future. “My one hope is that [Dear Asian Youth] outlasts us and stays as a community after we’ve gone off the college and have our own lives– to continue on with what we’ve tried to start here,” Yee expressed. 

Dear Asian Youth is not just limited to Asians– anyone is welcome to join the group activities and become a member. Though the name may suggest the group is solely for those in the AAPI community, the goal of the Chapter is not to divide Asians into its own group, but rather connect the diverse population within State College, and give Asians a place they can feel accepted. 

“Progress is never going to happen just by one group separating itself and trying to make its own identity. It has to be integrated into society as a whole. It’s just important to know that,” Yee declared. 

“We encourage everyone to be a part of Dear Asian Youths because even if you aren’t a part of the community, you can still learn a lot from interacting with the AAPI community; It’s a part of building empathy and compassion is really important in today’s world, especially because of social media and a lot of [other] issues,” Wu said.  

To kick off the start of the new Chapter, Fox gave insight into upcoming events that Dear Asian Youth has planned. 

“On November 20th, we’re going to have a movie night. [Which is] sort of like a kickoff event. Hopefully, a bunch of people from the Asian and other communities in State College [will attend],” Fox stated. “We’re going to watch a movie and just do some icebreakers, get to know everyone, [and] tell them what Dear Asian Youth is about. Hopefully [it’ll] get more people to join, so we can have a wider reach in the community.”

The upcoming movie night not only encompasses the Chapter’s goal of showcasing Asian creations and creators, but it also allows AAPI community members to interact with each other. Further in the future, Dear Asian Youth will be active on social media along with group meetings. 

“We’re going to try to do monthly social media posts and share things that are applicable to the Asian community here and globally by tying them back into the community here. We’re also going to probably do book clubs, more movie nights– just a lot of fun events and things that can help people [feel] more at home,” Fox described.

Whether or not community members are interested in joining and gaining the perspective of many Asian youths and their stories, Dear Asian Youth is still important to support and follow. It consistently gives Asian youths a voice, and the ability to speak up against the adversities they face.  

“Its goal is to encourage and empower Asian youths across the globe because there are a lot of issues affecting Asian youths right now that are important to address,” Wu explained. 

“The all-encompassing thing is reaching out to Asian youths across the world and getting them talking about what life is like, and different things that apply to the Asian that [is] sort of applicable but not necessarily discussed,” Fox expressed. 

In a world where the more privileged individuals get a louder voice, Dear Asian Youth manages to break through that barrier and gives voices to those who need it.

For more information on the multitude of projects that Dear Asian Youth is globally working on, click here. For updates, meeting dates, and campaigns made by the Chapter in State College,  follow State College Dear Asian Youths, @daystatecollege. Finally, for all social media projects along with informational posts, follow Dear Asian Youths, @dearasianyouth.