Finding the “Asian” in South Asian

By Ashley Rodriguez-Pena, Culture Editor

“Which one of you is Malala?” a masked gunman shouted before ruthlessly shooting 16-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in the head. In 2012, Yousafzai was shot on the right side of her head as she boarded her school bus in Pakistan. Yousafzai was targeted for advocating for educational rights for women.

After a long road to recovery, Yousafzai has become an inspiration for South Asian girls everywhere. Her influence has spread far and wide, grabbing the attention of newly formed club South Asian Student Association (SASA) here at our school. SASA has made large contributions to Yousafzai’s MALALA Fund, whose main focus is to help young girls in developing countries get an education.

SASA’s goal is to change the way people look at South Asia. At first thought, some students do not categorize people of South Asian heritage as “Asian”. “When you think Asian, you think East Asian,” says Don Kim (12). SASA represents all South Asian countries, prominently India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Middle Eastern Countries.

Vice President of SASA, Meghna Vemuri (11) experienced first-hand the exclusivity of the word “Asian”: “At an ASA meeting, one of my friends said to me, ‘Why are you even here? You’re not Asian’.”

Having only been a club for about 2 months, SASA has accomplished great feats. It has even gotten Miss India DC 2018, Anagha Sreenivas, to visit a club meeting as a guest speaker.

Anagha Sreenivas works with foundations to provide relief efforts for all Indian states, specifically South West Girala, where there are devastating floods and orphanages.

At the end of the year, SASA will accompany ASA and VSA at the annual Asian Picnic in hopes of bridging the gap between assumption and reality. “When I was little, people used to think that I looked Indian. But as I’ve grown older, people think that I look middle eastern,” says President Zain Abid (11), “There’s not one way to look South Asian.”