STORY BY CRYSTAL CORTEZ, STAFF WRITER
PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY RENAY LAGUANA-FERINAC
On May 11, Cypress College held an Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month & Graduate Celebration featuring graduates showcasing their endeavors.
The event occurred as the 1st Annual Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Celebration with over 125 participants in the presence of President JoAnna Schilling.
Located below are the summaries of the student stories shared at the event.
John Mai, Biology Major, comes from Vietnam. Spring 2023 marks Mai’s third year at Cypress College as an international student. He stated, “xin chào mọi người.” Translated as “Hey everyone.” He shares that COVID-19 was one of the toughest times ever in his life. His parents were 10,000 miles away, and his parents financed everything for him up til he was 9 years old. Being able to play his instrument helped relieve his sadness during the pandemic.
Patricia Iwata goes by Pixie and is from the Philippines. Pixie is a photography major at Cypress College. Pixie shares her personal experience as an Asian American woman in SoCal and how Cypress College’s Photography Department aided her experience growing up through the project and gallery opening she partook in in 2022. She highlights that she is not sure what the future holds for her at that moment but Pixie hopes to bring those valuable experiences and lessons she was given wherever she goes.
Andy Kehoe Nyuyen, a studio arts major, is from Vietnam. Nguyen has attended Cypress College for three years. When Nguyen started at Cypress College it was during the COVID-10 pandemic, he remembered when the classes were all remote and the classes weren’t open. It was not what he was looking to start his first year of college. Impacting him because he could not create new friendships with other people and see them in person. However, to cope with it, Nguyen overcame obstacles during his educational journey which were to be on a task like writing down his homework/planning his schedule in a separate notebook, learning how to turn in assignments on time, constantly checking his Canva notification, etc. In the future, he hopes that all of his moments at Community College will stay unforgettable and hopes to reunite with his peers. Additionally, once he is off to university to complete his bachelor’s degree, he will continue to better himself and remember everything he learned & the support of the people he loves to the best of his abilities.
Ngan Ho is from Vietnam and graduated with an associate’s degree in English and Theatre Arts. She shares that one day she came across a Tiktok video, discussing a quote from the book, “ On Earth We Briefly Gorgeous’” by Ocean Vuong about how the word,”nhó” in Vietnamese has two different meanings. “Nhó” means to remember but then “nhó” also means to miss. She expresses how it is a beautiful sentence and back then, she found it hard to express, to embarrass it the way it was. For Ho, living far from home for almost four years, the word, “nhó” comes to him naturally. She shares the following “Con nhó gia đình,” meaning I miss my family, and “Con nhớ quê hương” meaning I miss my hometown. Until this day she expresses that she can’t believe she left Vietnam to chase a dream that seems impossible here in America, especially for a foreigner like himself. She dreams of being a writer, but she could not write in perfect English though she speaks the language. She shares how they [Americans] made fun of her accent when she was young and how COVID-19 prevented her from taking advantage of her youth. For Ho, it took years and lots of effort to overcome the American expectation and at the end of the day, she realizes that perfection does not exist and that she learns to embrace the imperfection and enjoy the moment of the journey she is on. She shares that looking back, she finds herself as a brave survivor. Embracing that she knows that she would not be where she stands without the help of her family, friends, and the ISP program and staff at Cypress College. Ho shares that they accept her for who she is, they guide and encourage her to do what she is passionate about to live to her full potential. She misses a lot of things from her past but she remembers the journey in America with the opportunities she partook in. Ho, looking into the future hopes she can once again tell the stories of us [Asian Americans] who created reality from an impossible dream.
Shu-Ju Chang, a graphic design major, is from Taiwan and is half Vietnamese. He shares that as a bilingual individual, the most challenging obstacle during his educational journey in America is learning the language being English. He understands and absorbs the lectures quickly, but the language became an obstacle that he found he must overcome to pass his classes. Chang found himself frustrated with himself throughout the first year since he did not understand and improve in the language [English]. After experiencing his psychology class, Chang understood that a person who grows up in a bilingual environment or learning two languages at the same time would encounter difficulty in language development. Chang grew to be more patient with himself and began to improve his language. Encountering obstacles during his journey at Cypress College, he takes time to thank his family because it led him to keep himself up. Even though his English skill still needs to be improved, he is more comfortable with studying in the U.S. Now he is going to graduate and reach half of his educational goal. His hope for the future is to obtain a bachelor’s degree from a university and find a job with a proper salary so he can repay his family who have been supporting him and giving their love with no condition. Ending off with, “謝謝” translating into thank you in Chinese.