Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

‘The perfect intersection’: Brown MASH fosters community for students with mixed API identities

Group uses discussions, socials to bond over unique ‘joys and struggles’

<p>This spring, MASH will co-host a week-long celebration commemorating the Loving v. Virginia case that declared laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional.</p><p></p><p>Courtesy of Brown Mixed Asian-Pacific Islander Student Heritage Club</p>

This spring, MASH will co-host a week-long celebration commemorating the Loving v. Virginia case that declared laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional.

Courtesy of Brown Mixed Asian-Pacific Islander Student Heritage Club

When Sydney Pearson ’25 joined the University’s Mixed Asian-Pacific Islander Students’ Heritage Club, it was one of the first times she had encountered a space dedicated specifically to multiracial students. And while MASH’s focus on mixed Asian-Pacific Islander identity “can sound hyper-specific to some,” Pearson wrote in an email to The Herald that she quickly found the club to be “incredibly inclusive (and) expansive.”

From deep discussions to lighthearted socials, MASH hosts on-campus events aimed at building community for students with mixed API identities. The club, originally founded in 2002. is the only on-campus affinity group specifically for students with mixed API identities, according to Pearson, who now serves as the group’s social chair. And in recent meetings, the group has seen greater turnout than expected, Pearson wrote.

According to MASH President Nova Dea ’24, the club is ideal for students with mixed API identities who “don’t really fit into either one of their identities perfectly.” 

Dea, who is half Chinese and half Hispanic, said she had struggled to build a sense of belonging in other affinity groups that she initially joined. Dea then joined MASH, which she said is “the perfect intersection” between her two identities. Now, she wants to help foster a community “where everyone feels that they belong.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The club carves out a needed space for students with mixed API identities on campus, said MASH Vice President Zane Darden ’24. He said that while he has noticed many such students at Brown, he has found few spaces at the University designated specifically for them.

According to Darden, MASH provides a setting for students to engage in discussions about their identities and issues present in mixed API communities. “We seek to create a community where people can just meet (each other) that have similar backgrounds,” he said, adding that many students with mixed API identities bond over common “feelings, sentiments and experiences” about their positionality. 

Pearson wrote that the group primarily holds two types of events, discussions and socials. At discussion meetings, members address personal experiences with their identities, such as imposter syndrome, dating and anti-Asian racism. In social meetings, members can make new friends, bonding over activities like cooking workshops, craft nights and movie nights.

Hosting both types of meetings “brings a lot of vulnerability and a deeper sense of community to our club,” Pearson wrote. The group uses the combination to share the “joys and struggles that are often unique to mixed API.”

This spring, alongside Brown’s Organization of Multiracial and Biracial Students — another campus group for students with multiracial identities — MASH will organize Loving Week, a celebration commemorating the Loving v. Virginia case that declared laws prohibiting interracial marriage unconstitutional.

The group is also building connections across campus through collaborative events with other student organizations, Dea said, citing future events with the Brown Filipino Alliance and Brown Outing Club.

“While general API groups have always been more than welcoming to me, I never felt completely comfortable sharing the whole range of my identity in those places,” Pearson wrote. “MASH is a group that I feel like I truly fit into, without having to add in disclaimers or feel like I don't relate, and that's a really special feeling.”

ADVERTISEMENT


Popular


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.