You might have had some classes with Kim Wu and Andrew Huang before, but you might not have known the pair were declared Ms. and Mr. Asia 2017 by Ohio State’s Asian American Association at the One Asian Nation banquet in January.
Kim Wu, a fourth-year in strategic communication, and Huang, a fourth-year in accounting and Chinese, were voted by attendants of the annual charity banquet to bring awareness to the diverse Asian community at Ohio State.
The Ms. and Mr. Asia pageant included a cultural walk — where contestants strut down the runway in traditional outfits — a three-minute talent show, and a Q&A session focused on Asian-American advocacy and social justice, said Julie Wu, the president of Asian American Association.
Kim Wu said being named Ms. Asia was unexpected.
“I knew it would be really difficult to me because no one knew who I was, but people came to me afterwards and said they really appreciate what I talked about,” Kim Wu said. “That was very motivating for me because that’s entirely my purpose — I just want to be a relatable person. I still appreciate that to these days.”
Throughout the academic year, Kim Wu hosted many events to draw attention to issues like human trafficking, body image and underrepresentation of the Asian community.
Inner Glow Fashion Show was a recent event Kim Wu and Huang held to challenge conventional beauty standards and the lack of representations of minority groups in media.
The event cast a diverse group of students with different body shapes, cultural backgrounds, physical and mental abilities, genders and sexual orientations.
Huang saw being Mr. Asia as a role to mentor the Asian community, especially Asian males.
As the vice president of Pi Delta Psi, an Asian cultural interest fraternity, Huang tried to recruit young Asian males at Ohio State and helped them become leaders for the community.
“Especially in Asian American culture, where it’s often focused on being professional and [academically] successful, being an engineer or being a doctor is very stereotypical route,” Huang said. “But being a strong leader in whatever you are passionate about, I think that’s something I really want to push to other classes.”
Huang said the position of Mr. Asia allows for a student to become a role model, specifically in Asian-American activism.
“For me I’m trying to make it something that I do through different things in life, not just being involved as organizational leader but also being culturally aware,” Huang said.
As the winners of the Ms. and Mr. Asia pageants, Kim Wu and Huang were given the opportunity to split the $1,000 raised at the banquet to donate to charities of their choice.
Huang donated his $500 to UNICEF and Kim Wu decided to give her share to the Roosevelt Coffee House, a local nonprofit shop devoted to fight world hunger, unclean water and human trafficking.
The 2018 banquet will implement major changes, including abolishing the titles of Ms. and Mr. Asia, and putting more focus on the charity cause, said Julie Wu.
“First of all, the title of Mr. and Ms. are very gendered, so it’s like you have to be a male or a female, but now we are paying more attention to individuals who are nonbinary,” Julie Wu said.
She said the banquet will also market to represent Asian Americans, rather than just those from Asia, as that distinction leaves out the Pacific Islander population.
Held on Jan. 26, One Asian Nation 2018’s theme is “A World to Come,” with futuristic and minimalistic aesthetics and a goal to unite the Pan-Asian community at Ohio State, Julie Wu said.
“The idea is imagining the future where the community can be cohesive and come together because right now the Asian American, Pacific Islander community, were very fragmented,” Julie Wu said. “Asian American Association is supposed to be Pan-Asian, but we don’t have a strong community right now. People tend to stick to their ethnic groups.”