As part of Asian American Millennial Unite’s #UnapologeticAsian series, we are spotlighting how the modern AAPI activist spends their day. To launch this facet of the series, we're featuring Jessica Nguyen - the mind and brains behind the podcast series, Project Voice.
Project Voice is a podcast series dedicated to increasing visibility on issues that Asian/Asian American women face daily as well as providing a platform where their community can go to for guidance and resources.
8-9am: So, no two weekends are the same for me. I sometimes take last-minute trips outside of Boston and this weekend happened to be one of them. Waking up after a night of couchsurfing at my friend Ceci’s house in NYC, I got to play with her puppy, Hugo for a little bit before officially starting my day. Fun fact: Ceci is not only a dear friend of mine, she’s also one of my interviewees on Project Voice (Episode 13: Dealing with Expectations)!
9:30am: I was really grateful to be in the care of my friend’s family. No better way to start off the day with a delicious, homemade Korean breakfast! So good! I still daydream about this meal sometimes: rice, kimchi, bulgogi, and Korean tamagoyaki.
10 am: My first destination was Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City: On my way there, I stumbled upon The Green Street LLC, a cafe - perfect spot to catch up on responding to emails and editing Podcast episodes! If you’re thinking of ordering a drink there, I’d recommend their ginger lemon tea. :-)
11am: This is me spending the morning with the love of my life: NYC. When I’m in a new city, even when it’s for something related to my projects, I like to set out some time to relax and take in the scenery.
12pm-4pm: The reason why I was in New York was for an event taking place in Brooklyn’s New Women Space, “Perceptions of Us: A Fashion Narrative on Asian America.” I spent a good chunk of my day here as planned.
The event explored “each designer’s perspective of their identities with respect to race, culture, gender, and nuanced individual experiences.” The conversations I had with the designers there were a very empowering and validating experience for me.
I took so many badass photos of the works and designers there!
This is Designer Nathaniel Wu’s dress. According to Nat, the photos on the dress were actually a collage of American vintage illustrated ads.
And under the dress was a collage of photos from his Asian American friends’ personal albums and index cards with everyone’s writing of what the American Dream meant to them.
Here is me watching a short educational video on how Asian Americans have been stereotyped in the Hollywood film industry.
My favorite American Dream.
Here’s Designer Mia Rubin giving me a personal tour of her installation, “The Space In-Between,” which showcases the experiences of Chinese and Korean American adoptees through the use of prints, interviews, letters, and artwork. She’s been working on a book that addresses the complex experience of growing up as an Asian American adoptee.
The second installation I stopped by was Agnes Tai’s “Inscribe/Reclaim,” an installation dedicated to explaining the exoticization and fetishization of Asian American women. Her senior thesis project is actually comprised of a symbolic performance that involves a model and her dress being marked by images stereotypically deemed to contribute to the exotic Asian theme.
My last stop was Anh Le’s collection, which explores how one navigate outside societal binaries given the spectrum of gender and racial identities. Realizing how much space there still is in the act of creating Asian American narratives through fashion, Anh Le made it a goal to create their own representation through their own garments, and using their father as a model for the ideal self. Anh’s collection was performative, in terms of using pieces to symbolize the cohabitation of multiple worlds.
5p-6pm: As you could tell, I was all over the city the entire day and what better way to end the trip than with a rice bowl and buns from Baohaus! I completely KO’d during the bus trip home.
Jessica Nguyen is an Asian American. Podcaster. Freelance digital content creator. Social justice activist. Feminist. Aspiring social entrepreneur. Conscious fashionista. Smith College alumna.