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If you recall last year's Sounds of China fiasco, then you already know that Eddie Kang and I made fools of ourselves singing Britney Spears' "Toxic" in front of a famous record producer (something ridiculous like that). Clearly, Sounds of China does not have the same idea as we do when it comes to singing karaoke in public. In fact, K-Squared "Karaoke Klash", which starts at Lerner Party Space tomorrow at 7 PM, will probably be more of an Asian American Idol where one gets more points by singing songs that we don't entirely understand or like, but are popular overseas. Anyway. Annie Tan and our beloved new writer Kevin Zhai are slated to perform on behalf of AAA, and word is that they're not singing "Tong Hua"! Thank goodness. Go and get your support on.

CMI is a program that fosters mentoring relationships between historically underrepresented first year students (Latino, Native American, Asian/Asian American, Black/African American, LGBTQ, and international), upperclassmen, and alumni.

Apply to become a Peer Advisor and help first year students with the transition to college life! Also, receive an Alumni Mentor to guide you in your post-graduate aspirations.

Peer Advisor Responsibilities

* Serve as academic and social guide to first year students
* Connect first year students and alumni when appropriate
* Seek out alumni mentor when in need of professional guidance
* Attend CMI community functions
* Attend identity based Family Tree functions
* Be friendly and connect with fellow CMI members
* Commit for one full academic year

If you are interested, please contact Marta Esquilin (mee2009@columbia.edu) for an application! Our application deadline: April 24th, 2009

In Betty Brown's world, the American flag stands for good ol' fashioned apple pie and ethnocentrism

This in from OCA and Think Progress:
On Tuesday, State Rep. Betty Brown (R) caused a firestorm during House testimony on voter identification legislation when she said that Asian-Americans should change their names because they’re too hard to pronounce:

Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told [Organization of Chinese Americans representative Ramey] Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Yesterday, Brown continued to resist calls to apologize. Her spokesman said that Democrats “want this to just be about race.”

Okay, Betty Brown, let me tell you something: this is not about race; this is about cultural and nationalistic misrepresentation. First, what is this "here" to which she is referring? Southern White America? If so, then I'm sorry, but isn't it a little problematic that Betty Brown seems to believe that a certain territory and population claims ownership over what kind of name is easy or difficult to pronounce? This sounds like hyper-patriotism to me, and not the good kind. Second, what is with this division of "you" and "us"? Who are "you" and who is "us"? Is she referring to "You" as the Asian Americans citizen, and "Us" as the imaginary, unicultural, un-colored citizen? Wake up, Betty. What you're speaking to is a process of selective historicity, in which you blindly believe that this imaginary division that you're creating, between an American culture and an incomplete, partly but not fully American subculture, actually exists. But it doesn't. You need to rethink your categories, of what constitutes an Americanism, inclusivity, and cultural understanding.

Position Title: Paid Federal Government Internship Opportunities for Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) in Washington DC (eight internships available).
APAs include South and Southeast Asians, East Asians, as well as Pacific Islanders.

Duties/Job Description: The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) will place eight (8) summer interns in the U.S. Federal Government. These internship positions are open to ALL MAJORS, and are suited for individuals looking to gain real-world federal government experience. Specifically, CAPAL offers a diverse set of opportunities for acquiring public policy and management skills at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Depending on your interests and placement, your duties could vary from policy or scientific research, project coordination and management, business, law, communication, and more. Applicants are asked to specify their preferences on the application, and those selected will be placed based on their interests and skills. Agricultural knowledge is not required.

CAPAL will also mentor all selected interns and provide guidance in transitioning to Washington, D.C. including how to locate housing, how to navigate the city, and how to make the best of their summer in the nation’s capital.

The internship application deadline is April 17, 2009 or open until all internship positions have been filled. Applicants are encouraged to apply early.

For more information or questions, please contact CAPAL at: scholarships@capal.org.

CAPAL also provides two (2) scholarships, separate from the internship compensation, in the amount of $2,000. The deadline for the scholarship application is May 1, 2009.

For more information about the CAPAL scholarships or for a copy of the application, please visit our website.

Requirements: Demonstrated commitment to public service, including service to the APA community.

Location: Washington, D.C.
Compensation: $2,000 stipend

Application Instructions: Applications can be downloaded from our website [OR HERE!].

All required documents must be submitted to be considered for an internship placement or CAPAL scholarship.

Application Deadline: April 17, 2009.
Contact: scholarships@capal.org
Website: http://www.capal.org

Gene Kim
Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL)
www.capal.org | P.O. Box
65073, Washington, DC 20035

Update: Haha, uhhh....this is actually the same thing that David posted like, a day ago. That's awkward....

aThis just in! Storm Lake's Pilot Tribune recently published an article saying that Lori Phanachone was reinstated into the National Honor Society after having her membership revoked last Friday. Lori, a Laotian American high school senior at Storm Lake High School, was punished for refusing to take a state-wide English competency test simply because she marked on her registration forms that she spoke Laotian at home. For more info, see previous Blaaag posts by both Marilla and myself.

A civil rights agency representing a Laotian American Storm Lake High School honor student reports that the National Honor Society membership of Lori Phanachone was revoked at SLHS on Friday, then restored on Monday.
The district had given assurances that she would not be punished by removal from the program, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund officials said early Monday, calling for immediate reinstatement of the student to the National Honor Society as well as removal of any disciplinary action from Phanachone's files and assurance in writing that she will not be further punished or excluded.

And for those who don't know, AALDEF has taken on Lori's case. Here is the press release:

Honor student deemed an English Language Learner for declaring Lao as her home language
New York, NY — The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), which is representing Iowa honors student Lori Phanachone, has called for the removal of all references to disciplinary action from her school record after she refused to take an English Language Learner (ELL) test. Phanachone was mislabeled an English Language Learner (ELL) after naming Lao as her home language.

Khin Mai Aung, the AALDEF staff attorney representing the student, said: “Lori Phanachone is an honor student who has excelled in mainstream classes throughout her life, and happens to speak Lao as her home language. Storm Lake has improperly conflated my client’s knowledge of Lao with lack of fluency in English.”

The Storm Lake School District, which did not assess Ms. Phanachone’s English level when she enrolled two years ago, has since subjected her to a yearly test for ELLs. The 3.98 GPA senior did not receive English as a Second Language or other ELL services before moving to Storm Lake as a sophomore. Since matriculating in Storm Lake, Ms. Phanachone has excelled in advanced courses–all of which were taught in English. This year, she boycotted the yearly ELL test in protest. As a result, Ms. Phanachone was suspended for 3 days and threatened with the loss of National Honor Society membership, exclusion from school activities including the track team, prom and other extracurricular activities, as well as further disciplinary action.

Lori Phanachone said: “Storm Lake labeled me an English Language Learner when I enrolled without even bothering to test me. All I want is to continue my education without the school labeling me unfairly.”

Among other things, AALDEF demands that the Storm Lake School District:
  • Remove all references to Lori Phanachone’s suspension and other disciplinary action from her school records;
  • Assure in writing that it will not impose further disciplinary action on her;
  • Clarify Storm Lake’s procedures for classifying students as ELL upon enrollment;
  • Explain how and why Lori Phanachone was classified as an ELL under Storm Lake’s classification procedures; and
  • Reclassify Lori Phanachone, and other affected students if appropriate under Iowa and federal law, as English proficient.
Thank goodness this case is making some headway! Like Marilla said, this individual case may seem insignificant and just a technicality, but it's representative of many ways in which the law forces people into strict categories and undervalues America's diversity. AALDEF has asked people not to contact the school administrators, but feel free to write Lori letters of support! If have a letter, email it to theblaaag@gmail.com and we will make sure it gets to Lori!

CAPAL (Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership) Internships!


CAPAL will also partner with four federal government agencies to award eight paid internships to APA college and graduate students. Each intern will be assigned mentors and will receive a $2,000 stipend. Two interns will be placed at each of the following agencies:Applications are due April 3, 2009. Click below to download the application form and instructions.

Click [here] for the 2009 CAPAL Internship Application in PDF form

Click [here] for the 2009 CAPAL Internship Application in Word form

Check out the site here.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am the volunteer coordinator for the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), a nonprofit organization that provides legal help to New York?s most vulnerable and underserved individuals. We are urgently seeking a fluent Mandarin speaker for immediate placement in our Immigration Protection Unit. NYLAG?s Immigrant Protection Unit handles a comprehensive range of immigration cases including adjustment of status, non-immigrant visas, citizenship, asylum, VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) petitions, and other forms of immigration relief. The Immigrant Protection Unit also provides help to individuals with public assistance matters such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI and other government benefits which are often intricately associated with an individual?s immigration needs.

The intern would assist with some very pressing cases, providing much-needed interpretation and translation for non-English-speaking individuals. The intern will work personally with clients, and become familiar with immigration practice. If the candidate has written fluency, he or she would also be responsible for translating documents related to pending immigration matters, but our first priority is finding an intern with conversational fluency. This position is part time, with a minimum commitment of about eight hours weekly.

I am wondering if you can help us locate a qualified student who might be interested in this position. Thank you for your time and assistance, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Anat Schraub

NYLAG Volunteer Coordinator



Top story in the New York Daily News:

New Jersey-born actor Kal Penn, who played a stoner Guantanamo Bay escapee in the movies and a doctor on TV's "House," has scored a job in the White House. Way to go, dude!

Penn, 31, will become associate director in the White House Office of Public Liaison, administration officials confirmed Tuesday. The Indian-American film star will be an emissary to the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, along with arts and entertainment groups.

Penn campaigned extensively throughout the country for President Obama last year and was a hit on college campuses.

WHAT! Does this mean that we'll expect Kal Penn vlogs from the White House? Or some Presidential grass burning rituals? Also, there's a spoiler for House, and it's related to this news, but I won't tell it, because I don't watch House.


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