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In Focus conference draws 120

Claire Heininger | Monday, February 2, 2004

Despite clashes over the publicity scheme leading up to the third annual AAA In Focus Student-Run Conference, executive chair Ryan Leung said the event successfully boosted recognition of Asian and Asian-American issues at Notre Dame.”I think that, overall, the conference was a success,” Leung said Sunday. “People’s eyes were opened to some things they weren’t aware of before.”Leung said the conference was well attended, with 120 people present at the closing banquet and most of those also participating in various workshops throughout the day.”Being an all-day Saturday event, it was hard to get people to attend every workshop we had,” he said. “But I’m glad we were able to get people to come to parts of it.”Prominent Asian-Americans in a variety of career disciplines led workshops at the conference, including actor Parry Shen’s presentation of “Personal Journey,” which narrated his experiences as one of the few Asian-Americans in Hollywood. AAA In Focus Public Relations chair Sarah Liu said the conference was eye-opening, but that students’ interest in Asian-American concerns should not be confined to a yearly event.”I really hope that the questions we raised will go beyond just the conference this weekend,” Liu said. “I hope the students who came felt empowered and will go out to make an impact on the Notre Dame community. I really hope that people will continue to challenge others and themselves.”While some of the flyers used to promote the event on campus were perceived as furthering anti-Asian stereotypes, Leung said they were not intended to be offensive.”I didn’t get any official complaints, but I heard a lot of talk,” he said. “Some of the flyers were seen as perpetuating stereotypes, but we saw them as a method to bring issues Asian-Americans face to the forefront, to get people to discuss them and to promote change.”Advance publicity notwithstanding, the conference did bring the AAA into the spotlight. “A lot of people who came without any knowledge of the Asian community gained knowledge and insight,” Liu said.Leung agreed that the goals of the weekend were achieved. “The most important mission of the conference was to spark that fire in students’ hearts to promote a better understanding of multicultural issues on campus,” he said.