Yu Ming Hosts Inspirational AAPI Panel Discussion

May 23, 2024

Yu Ming Charter School welcomed several prominent Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) figures from various professional fields, for a panel discussion with upper school students. This special event was designed to inspire and educate students about diverse career paths and the influence of cultural heritage on professional choices.

Guests included:

  • Kathy Fang, a celebrated celebrity chef and entrepreneur known for her modern approach to Asian cuisine and her appearances on Food Network.
  • Goodwin Liu, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, renowned for his contributions to constitutional law and education.
  • Dr. Qian Tan, a leading research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, specializing in atmospheric aerosols and climate science.
  • Reynold Xin, co-founder of Databricks and a pioneer in big data and AI, recognized for his work on Apache Spark.

Yu Ming Charter School selected these panelists to provide a broad spectrum of perspectives and experiences, demonstrating the vast potential within the AAPI community on the backdrop of AAPI Heritage Month. Each panelist brought a unique background and expertise, aiming to inspire upper school students by showcasing success in different fields and emphasizing the importance of embracing one’s cultural heritage. 

Kathy Fang advised students to “lean into your culture, your heritage. . . Keep them with you because it’s a formula, a map of how you become successful in life.” “Middle school and high school is a good time to find what you like… You want to do something you’re really good at,” said Dr. Tan. Echoing Dr. Tan, Reynold Xin said “there are a lot of smart people out there. It’s not enough to be smart. You really have to work hard.” Goodwin Liu, who first studied medicine before switching to law, encouraged students to “carve your own path. . . Some of you may become chefs, teachers, or school principals. There are many, many roles available to you in society. You need to figure out what your passion is and not be afraid to follow it.”

Yu Ming strives to bring in prominent figures, personalities and community leaders for its celebration of AAPI Heritage Month each year, to demonstrate the wide array of possibilities that lie ahead and inspire students to pursue their own dreams with confidence. “The AAPI diaspora is a wide and diverse one. Yu Ming’s very own Asian community is made of families with a multitude of heritages including Cambodian, Filipino, Chinese, Guamanian, Hawaiian, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Vietnamese, as well as multiracial, and more,” said Yu Ming CEO Stacey Wang.

Hearing stories of perseverance, success, and cultural identity from these leaders helps students connect more deeply with their own backgrounds and understand the value of their unique perspectives. “At Yu Ming, we seek to nurture self-discovery in our students and pride in their own family stories for them to move and grow confidently in the world,” added Stacey. 

The school welcomed Aimee Suzara earlier this month, a Filipino-American poet, playwright, and performer based in Oakland, CA. In past years, AAPI Heritage Month guest speakers have included actor Daniel Wu and award-winning cartoonist and author Gene Luen Yang about the Disney series American Born Chinese; Japanese internment camp survivor Michiko Yee; and Dr. Russell Jeung, author, professor, and co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate.

This event is closely tied to Yu Ming Charter School’s mission of nurturing an inclusive and diverse community to become empowered, engaged, and outstanding global citizens. The Mandarin immersion school’s whole-child model emphasizes human development and social-emotional learning, fostering self-awareness, compassion, and strong relationships for students to gain a deep understanding of themselves and the world around them. This enriched education builds a collective sense of belonging across languages and cultures, essential for driving social change and creating a bright, multicultural and compassionate future.