To be an Asian Between Cultures (ABC) is to be caught between two worlds: one of laidback sunshine and beaches, and one of family, culture and responsibilities. Created by and for young Asian Australians, the Asian Australian Project (AAP) creates a space where this unique cultural experience can be explored. AAP holds many social events throughout the year where community members can come together, engaging in everything from Clean Up Australia Day to AAP movie nights. It also offers professional development opportunities in the form of workshops and mentorship programs.
However, AAP’s initiatives are nothing if not plentiful and varied. In addition to social and professional opportunities, it seeks to be a brave and forward-thinking voice within mainstream and Asian Australian communities, using its platform to challenge norms and preconceptions. To achieve this mission, it runs a journal that covers everything from Ramadan to interviews of the 2022 Federal Election candidates. AAP also runs fireside chats on topics such as being an Asian LGBTQIA+ person and food’s relationship with identity.
While being progressive and interested in young people and contemporary issues, AAP also recognises the distinct connection Asian Australians have with family, culture, and language, and put out language resources to help Asian Australians initiate tough conversations with their families. For example, resources have been made to cover relevant vocabulary to be used in talking about colonisation and Indigeneity in languages ranging from Tagalog to Vietnamese.
Growing up as an ABC, I have always been interested in questions of identity and culture. I started volunteering as a writer with AAP in December 2021 and through their journal, have been able to explore the history of monolids and the double eyelid surgery and the development of Asian fusion foods. I strongly believe in the work that they do and am constantly impressed at the range of initiatives and loyal following they have, especially as they are a young organisation, having been established in 2019.
For AAP, I will be creating a cookbook, with recipes sourced from the volunteers and the community. Food for ABCs is an incredibly multifaceted issue. While many of us are teased and taunted when we are younger for the way our food smells or differs from other kids’, many of us also find food to be a way in which we connect with our families and cultures. I hope to capture stories like these in the cookbook, exploring everything from the history of popular dishes to the family recipe carried down through generations, to the way someone developed their favourite hangover food.
For AAP, this will provide a base for a project they may expand on after the semester, as well as being an experiment of what could be effective or ineffective in a project such as this. Additionally, the outreach to the community will be good exposure for the organisation and it will provide a platform for its volunteers to share recipes and stories about food.