In Between organization unites Asian American identities

By Kayla Mish, Staff Writer

Callie Goering, sophomore in LAS and president of In Between, was looking through RSOs on campus when she realized there wasn’t a club for Asian American students who felt in between multiple cultural identities.

After failing to find an RSO that suited this desire, she decided to start a chapter of a national organization called In Between at the University. For now, students can meet up through Zoom on Monday nights at 6 p.m. to share stories and get to know each other.

“It was really interesting coming from my perspective of an adoptee, where I grew up and was raised by white parents, and I looked Asian on the outside, but I didn’t really align with that,” Goering said.  “I felt like this mission statement of ‘uniting and supporting Asian Americans who feel in between their cultures’ could help connect so many people on campus.”

In Between officially became a RSO mid-October, so the executive board is still in the process of figuring out the logistics of directing the group. Even with the RSO being brand new, around 50 people have expressed interest. Goering mentioned the mission statement really resonated with a lot of people. 

Guest speakers, social events, workshops and service events are just a few things In Between is hoping to do for its members. The RSO is looking into getting a Paralympian and some cast members from Crazy Rich Asians to share their stories of feeling in between cultures.

For Emily Lee, junior in Education and vice president of internal affairs, one of her favorite moments of the first meeting was sharing “you look like me” moments. Seeing Asian American role models growing up helped her feel less alone in her identity. 

“Not many singers in Broadway are Asian, so I talked about one signer named Lea Salonga who is Asian and very highly regarded in Broadway” Lee said. “Seeing her and having that role model made me be proud of who I am and allow me to not think that my Asian American identity would limit me in my journey of trying to become successful in musical theater.”

After seeing Goering’s Facebook post about the new RSO, Angela Shaw, junior in Social Work and vice president of service, reached out with interest.

“Finding a way to make your Asian identity bigger than you is something that drew me to the program,” Shaw said.

She is currently working with the national branch to partner with Love Without Boundaries, an organization that helps children without parents around the world fund education and medical costs and reduces child trafficking.

Fostering a community is one of the main goals of the RSO. Jennifer Li, sophomore in Media and vice president of design, hopes it will become a comfortable and welcoming environment to new members.

“I know people can get anxious about meeting new people and I want to emphasize that we want to create a safe space,” Li said. “The exec board is really eager to meet new people and talk to people, so we are more than willing to go that extra step and reach out to people.”

Members will also have the chance to learn more about their culture through workshops.

“We will be doing presentations on holidays in Korea and Taiwan and how they are celebrated,” Shaw said. “That will be the beginning of a series of workshops about culture.”

They are also looking into having a language and culture class over the summer.

Their first meeting was last week, and Lee said a lot of people opened up and shared their experiences with the group. Growing up, she said she didn’t really have space where she could share her feeling of being in-between cultures.

“It’s weird and I know people feel the same way,” Lee said. “In this big campus, where feeling alone is really common, I see that these Asian RSOs are trying to be that space for people, but there isn’t really a space that accommodates for people in the middle.”

So far, 24 people attended the first meeting and Shaw said that things are going really well. The only requirement for the club is being open to hearing others’s experiences and having a positive attitude. 

“If you are looking to find a community that is safe and welcoming, I highly encourage you to check us out,” Goering said.

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