THE FOUNDER OF THE ASIAN AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTERS SHARES HER EXPERIENCES WITH RACISM, BUILDING COMMUNITY, AND THE THREE THINGS YOU NEED IN YOUR CHARACTER
Amy Wong Mok is a Human Services Education Alumni.
Interview by Robyn Ross | Photo by George Brainard
Amy Wong Mok grew up in Hong Kong and was raised to listen rather than speak. In the United States, she found her voice speaking out on behalf of women, children, the elderly, and Asian immigrants. In 2000, she founded the Asian American Cultural Center, which serves as a resource for Austinites from both Eastern and Western backgrounds.
What helped you adjust to American culture?
After two years at Navarro College, I transferred to Northeastern University in Boston. I took an Introduction to Human Services class, and half of our grade was based on our participation. But growing up in Hong Kong, we were taught that you should just listen and not speak, so I didn’t know how to participate. The wonderful professor called me to her office and said, “Amy, I want you to now that your experience is as important as anyone else’s in this classroom. And without your participation, this class will not be the same. It will not be whole because your voice is not there.” So she explained my responsibility: that I’m not just trying to get a grade, I had to make the class whole by putting in my voice and sharing my experience. It was an important turning point.
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