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Hi, everyone, this is Desa Daniel and I'm super excited to have Dr. Anne Saw here today on The Thoughtful Counselor podcast. And I am going to read a little bit about what I pulled from the interwebs on Dr. Anne saw so rip to my other podcast, podcast guests that I didn't do that for But Dr. Annie saw is currently at DePaul University. She's recently tenured associate faculty in the department of psychology, hold affiliations and global Asian Studies program and refugee and forced migration studies program is the 2021 DePaul inaugural Provost Award for diversity, equity and inclusion. A $30,000 grant from CDC and prevention through Asian Pacific partners for empowerment, advocacy and leadership. Advancing tobacco control policy in Chicago Asian American communities is the DePaul University public service Council community engagement research grant dialogue, intervention to promote racial solidarity and tactical, tactical, anti blackness among Asian immigrants, along with hundreds of publications, including improving Asian American health during the cinnamic of COVID-19 and racism, and laying their groundwork for patisserie research with the Rohingya refugee population. And finally, but not least, is the vice president for Asian American Psychology Association, and the 2023 conference chair for the division 45 conference. Did I miss anything?
Couple corrections, I have the vice president of the Asian American Psychological Association, I might not have updated my CV to reflect that. But I, somebody else took over in January. Okay. Now if I've had hundreds of publications, that doesn't sound right.
That's how it looks when I looked at your CV. Through all 800 pages. I was like, wow, they're you're doing a lot of work. Yeah, so keeping CVS up to date, so that when people see it your life, they actually know what you're doing. And your website, which is fantastic. Anything else? Any other corrections? Or? I'm sure I miss lots of stuff that you're doing.
Um, that covers a lot of it. Thank you for looking me up and checking out my website.
Yeah, this is Dr. Anne Saw, one of the most humble people I know. And so I'm just gonna go with that. So the first question is, your work seems focused on community and supporting the community. What was the catalyst that set you on the journey to do this work?
I can't quite think of a catalyst per se. But I grew up in an immigrant household into your prince Cisco, embedded in different Asian immigrant communities, and grew up with parents and elders that really taught me to prioritize service and community care. And when I was an undergrad, I took a couple classes that really inspired me to consider how I could shape a career around service to communities. So I took a community psychology course I took an Asian American psychology course and those are not offered in a lot of universities. I feel really, really fortunate that I Got that exposure early on, and saw those possibilities. And so those two might have been, like catalysts towards the career that I ended up choosing.
Not so growing up in San Francisco Bay Area, and really wanting to give back but also maybe like influence the future of kind of what's happening within the community that you were growing up in?
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And, you know, San Francisco, is, history has historically been a place where a lot of revolutionary movements have occurred. And UC Berkeley where I did my undergrad is also known as, you know, historically, a place where students have engaged in a lot of revolutionary activist kinds of movements. So just being in those spaces, sort of gave me permission very, very early on to do things that were maybe a little outside of the box.
So as you kind of moved out of San Francisco, you left the Bay Area, now you're in Chicago, how has that work carried into your Chicago space? And how are the communities especially Asian communities different? Or do they have similar commonalities in the work you're doing?
I would say San Francisco and Chicago, are very, very different places, in terms of just the demographics of the cities. And particularly in my work with Asian immigrant communities. This the layout of communities is also very different. Growing up in California, I knew where to find my people or Asian communities in general, because folks tended to be organized in ethnic enclaves. And even if they kind of moved up the socio economic ladder, continued to stay connected through churches, or organizations or clinics or whatever, to certain communities. So even though I didn't live in an ethnic enclave, per se, we, my family would always go to, to, you know, grocery shopping in certain ethnic neighborhoods. So I always felt connected in that way. Chicago is not quite the same. There's Chinatown and there are these smaller ethnic enclaves. But people tend to Asian Americans are kind of spread out in the suburbs. So I really struggled early on wanting to do community engaged research in Chicago and not knowing where to find people who, which organizations to partner with.
. You mentioned several times, like these ethnic enclaves. And I'm wondering, for those of us who really don't understand that, like, what is the significance of that or, like, kind of having like, a focus centralized community?
Yeah, you know, I think ethnic enclaves are both, you know, are influenced by push and pull factors, right, the push to what because of various structural factors related to immigration wanting to kind of clump people in traditionally like low income neighborhoods, because of redlining or other policies, making it really difficult for a lot of a lot of folks of color to live where they want to live. And so those are some, some push factors. But there are pull factors, right, that you that when you're in certain communities, your people are there, your food is there, your culture is there. So ethnic enclaves, kind of at for places like Chicago and San Francisco and other big cities are often still places where newer immigrants can be found or folks living in poverty can be found. But they're also where our restaurants are, and our cultural organizations are.
Something else you mentioned, that was just kind of surprising to me is mentioning the importance of organizations but also churches within the community and realizing that even if there's kind of the social mobility or people moving around there, still kind of this home base or connection to those organizations. And how have you seen either churches or those organizations really benefit or, like support Asian American communities as a whole?
So yeah, I mean, I think that No matter where people live in and kind of spread out around a metropolitan area, there are often these home bases. And for me growing up, it was, it was Asian churches that, you know, I might have had friends who lived like, couple cities away, but we knew where to find each other on the weekends. And, you know, I think there is a continued function of churches and other cultural or community organizations, whether it is because people are still seeking support after resettling, or just seeking connection and community.
That kind of really leads me into one of your project of community based history research with rohingya refugee community in Chicago and really wondering like, what was the urge to want to do community based participatory research? And then why focus on this population directly?
So participatory research is a set of methodologies, but really sort of a, a stance that some researchers take that is kind of epistemological, ontological, it's sort of like, how do you understand how knowledge is generated? And who are those sources of knowledge. And for me being trained in community psychology. I think that part in working with communities of color and immigrant and refugee communities, I think the knowledge, the wisdom lies within those communities. And I as a reach researcher, particularly in partnering with communities that I know that I'm not a part of, I need to be humble enough to know that I don't know anything or very much, and I and the only way to do research that can make an impact is to engage, collaborate, and CO lead with community partners. So I really try to prioritize versus participatory stances and methodologies in the work that I do. The writing the community is a relatively new comer community in Chicago in the US. They are originally from Burma, it also happens to be where my parents were born and raised before immigrating to the US. And they for decades have been persecuted by the Burmese Government, and by ethnic Burmese in their, in their ancestral homes. And recently, in the last 15 years, 1000s of Rohingya have made their way to the US and about 1500 have settled here, where I am in Chicago. And I started working with this community, partly because, you know, I have this insider outsider status of having family background in Burma and understanding and feeling that connection of being persecuted for one's ethnicity. So the reason why my my family, both sides of my family left Burma, to come to the US was because the military government took over Burma in the late 60s and 70s, and really crackdown on all ethnic minorities in the country. And my parents were never able to be citizens in Burma, and that cut them off from a lot of a lot of opportunities. And they were they were targeted their churches and their businesses and their schools were shut down. So they felt like they had no other choice but to leave. This is nowhere near the extent of the persecution that the Rohingya have experienced in Burma. But still, I felt that connection like here is another community that like my family decades before are recently resettled to the US trying to navigate how to integrate into a foreign community without lots of resources. And so and and The community from the get go has has demonstrated so much resilience so many streams. I partnered, I began partnering with the Rohingya Culture Center in Chicago, which was started by a Rohingya community member who, at that time, we had only been in the US for like two or three years, he didn't have more than, and still doesn't have more than a fourth grade education. But yet he started this organization because he saw the need for his people to have a space that was theirs, and for community to help themselves. So I reached out to them to see if there was anything that I could help support. My intention wasn't necessarily to go in with, like a set of research questions or research projects in mind, I just wanted, you know, I learned about this community, I felt some personal connection with them and wanted to see if I could help them in any way.
Yeah, it's incredibly powerful as you're talking to just think about the historical context of our families and how our families end up being a part of like our future goals and our future researchers, just the work we're doing. But even just the connection of being like, hey, like I in the US may have a little bit more of social equity. And I would love to make sure that someone else feel supported in that, and then just reaching out to the community and wanting to see something different happened without any intentions on like, what you could get out of it, which often is not, as highlighted in academic spaces as maybe it should be. And so just feeling that connection, but then also just humbled to realize that we can give back without expecting anything in return.
Yeah, yeah, I do think that researchers rightly so often have really poor reputations, and communities, because we tend to enter communities with a set agenda that tends to benefit us more than the communities and we go about a set of practices that intentionally or unintentionally served to take rather than give back right so you know, as I entered spaces in Chicago as a new faculty member, I experienced a lot of like pushback from Tini community members here, I was thinking like, I am, you know, trained as a community engaged scholar, I want to do research with you. But I didn't have the background knowledge to know that they that many of these community organizations had been burned in the past saddled with like, you know, they would, they would have a lot of them have had past experience with researchers who might have come in with, you know, huge grants, but then asked, only gave community partners a tiny little bit of compensation, and then asked a ton in return. And I heard stories of researchers who would ask for a ton of assistance with data collection or language translation. And community partners would do would bend over backwards to help these researchers. And then the researchers wouldn't even have the respect for the community to like, come back with them. Like, here's what we found, like you, you took so much from us and you couldn't even like, tell us what you share your findings with us that we helped you, you know, the work that we helped you do or that we did for you, right? So there these sorts of experiences happen so often, between researchers and communities. That it I mean, it's really unfortunate, and I can understand why communities often are so reluctant to have academics enter their spaces, right? They don't want to enter into another relationship filled with exploitation and uneven power. And I feel like it's my job as a community engaged researcher to prove to a community partner that I'm really invested in them and I really care and I'm really willing to put in the time and the money and the work, to develop partnerships that are equitable, that don't just take away from communities and don't just give back but help to like build right to, to invest in those communities. And to do it for the long haul, not for the year or five years that I have a grant. Like, if I'm committing to you, I'm committing to you for the long haul.
And as you're talking, I'm really hearing like this, like pivot of like now that you have this information, this is really what you want to do and make sure that you're involved in this community. But I'm wondering, like, what was it like to receive that information from the community and their experiences with the researchers knowing that like, in some aspect, like these people are our colleagues are, they're sharing these academic spaces with us. And yet, they may not have the same ethical practices when it comes to working with communities of color, but then also supporting Canadians long term.
You know, I would be lying if I said that I didn't have like an immediate negative reaction, like, wait, I, I wasn't the one who hurt you. Like, I'm a totally different person. But a lot of the communities that I partner with our communities that don't necessarily have a lot of background in research, and don't have a ton of opportunities to shop around and see like, is there another academic partner, that would be a good fit? That would be a good partner for me? So if they've been burned once? Why would they expect anything different from somebody new? So, you know, getting over some of that initial defensiveness? I think, I have come around to the end, teach my students now I mentor my students to really be patient and to just to, from the get go really think with a mindset of, of needing to prove yourself, like, you should expect that you should expect a healthy level of skepticism when you're entering a new committee community. And it should be your responsibility, your duty to prove that you're somebody different. You really think it just
connects so directly to like what you talked about with Burma and having this community like really prosecuted and not being able to get citizenship and like really seeing the government react in this way. And really being this like, organizational institutional body. And then even when we don't always maybe align with the practices of even academia, we're still representing this government body and this institution. Trying to find that balance, like maybe like brown, or like a version of color, but you're still an academic, like you're working with people with lower levels of education does not necessarily mean that they're not just as brilliant as you are. But the level of skepticism is there because it's been there to protect them.
Yeah. 100% You're so so so Right, right? These, a lot of these communities have faced structural violence for generations, from governments, from school systems from hospital systems, why would they expect that you would be any different, right? Whether you look like them whether you speak the same language? You you. Yeah, academics are part of an often perpetuate systems of inequity, perpetuates structural violence on communities that have already been hurt so many times across generations.
Yeah, and as you're talking about social violence, I'm also kind of thinking about this other projects you've been working on, which is the AAPI COVID-19 needs assessment project, and wondering how kind of like that came into play or, like given your community work, how this was now a different layer layer of importance for the work that you wanted to do.
Yeah, so this, a Asian American and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander COVID-19 needs assessment, we never came up with a catchy acronym. So we've stuck with this super clunky name for the project. It came about in a really distinct way. For me, I'd never engaged in a project like this where I wasn't the one looking for funding trying to find support for this work, trying to pitch it to somebody else. It was it came out of an ask from Congress, people from the Congressional Black Caucus congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Hispanic Caucus and the at the time to Native American Congresswoman that served the caucus with them. So really, really interesting in that way that it came from policymakers of color wanting researchers of color to study and generate data on communities of color. So talk about like, FUBU. For us by us, this is straight up, like all the way. So it was it was very unique in that way. And then we had support from National Urban League who helped us find funders for the project. And it was also different for me in that it was it very large scale projects. So we collected, we had over 3700 Asian American participants and almost 1300 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander participants, we kept with our community engaged values and practices and that we, we sought out organizations that we already had relationships with and ask them to help out in generating like, what what should what questions, should we ask, what are particular needs that we should try to assess, and impacts from COVID-19. And they helped us collect data. In you know, it between January and April 2021. Folks, still, for the most part, we're not yet vaccinated. So this is a really, really hard time to try to collect data on a national scale with that many participants, but because the research team that I lead, each member was already had decades of community engaged research experience, we ended up pulling it off in four months time, but it would not have happened if we were just, you know, your bread and butter researchers who had no connections communities, there's no way we would have collected the data that we did. And you know, and it showed like organizations that we had no prior relationship with or like we're too swamped. This is, you know, COVID, we don't have time to help you collect data. But organizations where we had these really deep partnerships had demonstrated that we were committed, they were willing to collect data at vaccine drives, they were willing to pick up the phone and call their clients and translate the survey, if it wasn't already translated, they, they did everything to help us collect data for this particular project. So it was different in that it was mostly an online survey. And but it was, you know, similar to other projects that I've engaged in, in that we try to partner with communities, we tried to make sure that the data could be useful for them once it was collected, that we were really using the data to advocate for those communities. So it was it was a great experience for me to lead. And I think that we have we have made impacts on on Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to try to advocate for their needs and more resources for their communities.
So I have to go back because you dated us with for us by us and FUBU. And so, but I do I very much like that reference, because I just felt all hyped. I'm like, yes, let's do it. But that also just, like have a moment of pause if you did this at four months, which is just insane to me, like especially during a pandemic of like there's lots of things I did in four months, it was not a nationally led project
when I talk about FUBU
I just like and I you know what have you like the energy of it and like you said earlier of just not just wanting to do community work, but realizing that like this is really an opportunity to like really do stuff like for us and giving it back and letting people know that you're really committed to them. But then also, I just think about all of the indirect implications like the the mentorship and just the support of seeing people who look like me doing this work and realizing that I could also do that work one day if if I'm just kind of part of this indirectly and seeing this awesome research team kind of get this done. Yeah,
Yeah. You know, so often research on ethnic and racial minority communities are not done by folks in those communities, they're done on us. And they're not done for us, either. They're done for the researchers and for their benefit, right. But, you know, we were, we are a part of those communities, we were in our experiencing the theme impacts that our communities are experiencing right anti Asian racism, economic devastation, restaurants and businesses, other businesses closing down, or elders needing help with social services and finding that forms and applications were not available in their languages. Teachers who didn't understand how to support students in remote learning, like all of these things we were experiencing, it made the work really hard, right? As you're like, experiencing layers and layers of trauma yourself, you're trying to be productive, it was really hard to, to function, and to be productive, like just generally baseline COVID. But then to do that, between January and April, that was when the Atlanta area shootings happened. There were so many things that were happening in the world that and in our communities that were just really awful, and kind of just knocked me off my, whatever, knocked knocked me off my game. And also a recognition that this opportunity that we had, was so rare and might not come again. And the platform that we had to try to make an impact was also potentially short lived as well, like, Who knows when anybody's going to pay attention to Asian American or Pacific Islander communities ever again, so let me just not sleep, let me just, you know, push through the pain and the trauma that I feel and just do the work because if I don't do it, if we don't do it, who knows when we'll have another opportunity to do it. So that was sort of like the those were the motivators at that time to just keep pushing on. But it was it, of course, was not easy at all. It was really, really painful and hard. And I would not recommend it to anybody.
Yeah I'm just hearing the, the social response. So the social responsibility, but then also just like how much heavy weight to take on realizing that, especially because you're working with policymakers, and you're working with people who actually can change laws, and can really heavily impact communities for generations to come. That may have just the hope or potential to not let another shooting happen is so much weight that the push is so important, but then also just the realization that like you are them and they are you and you're reflected in these people that also are experiencing just an immense, immense amount of racism and discrimination, especially during COVID, like just insane.
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Like, I don't know how many times I cried, and, you know, just felt like I couldn't, I couldn't do this because it was really traumatizing, like it was hard to part of the work was following up on folks who reported to the stop API, hey, reporting center. And just, you know, hearing about all of the reading about all of these incidents of racism, seeing viral videos of folks who looks like me or who looks like my, you know, my people, my family get brutally attacked. All of this is happening, and I'm collecting data on it, and I'm analyzing data on it, and then trying to advocate for what feels like no brainers many people or people's mental health and physical health are impacted by racism. COVID-19 has broad and dramatic impacts on our country. Unity's we need help, like those seem really obvious to me. But to you know, continue to make those cases to different audiences, different stakeholders, stakeholders and policymakers. That's what you know. That's what I felt like I still needed to do, even as I kind of resented having to do it, right having to state the obvious over and over again.
Yeah, that piece of being resentful, like, feels just incredibly powerful to the work that we end up doing. Because it's the reminder that you just keep arguing for it, especially lately with things that happen in Texas. And just like just nationwide with gun violence of you're arguing over and over for things that seem to be common sense. But then, can they be common sense if we have to argue for them every day. And so it's almost like, you're stuck in this washing machine of racism and discrimination and viral videos and social media and politicians saying, just horrible, harmful stuff about Asian communities, but then also realizing that you're experiencing that directly, but you also have the burden and privilege to make sure that people hear you because you do have an opportunity to stand up and voice something different.
Right. Yeah. I mean, what feels really obvious to us, as you mentioned, is clearly not obvious to everybody else. And I think, you know, something that continues to drive me is knowing that bipoc communities in general, are not part of average white America's like, on average, white Americans Raider, the pain that we experienced, the dehumanization that we experienced, the continued structural violence that we experienced is not something that people consciously think about, right, and, and so when we say things like Black Lives Matter, it's again, stating the obvious, but it's not so obvious to other people. And I feel the same way about other the work that I do, the advocacy that I do, I'm stating the obvious what feels obvious to me, but may not be obvious to other people, and for Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities. Not only is our our issues ignored, but we tend to be ignored, we tend to not be in conversations, like we tend not to be acknowledged as Americans, or that are, you know, our existence tend to just, you know, we don't exist. Last year, a group can't did a study a poll and asked Americans who the most to name, Asian Americans, and the top response was, I don't know any. And then the next two responses were Jackie Chan, and Bruce Lee, somebody who's not American, and somebody who is very dead. Right? And that's Bedich. That is so sad, right? That like, this was like the average Americans understanding of Asian Americans. So whatever work that I do, I know that by putting it into this world, I'm at least, like forcing people to acknowledge that our communities exist. And then I can get into the nuance of it. And we're not model minority, my model minorities, and we're not all perpetual foreigners and I can start to break those stereotypes. But a lot of the work I do, unfortunately, is just getting people to acknowledge that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders exist in this country.
Yeah I also just think of, and I've had this conversation with so many people outside of academia of like, when you're pulling names out of a hat, maybe you shouldn't pull like the most assessable like famous, possibly like wealthiest people, you know, and then compare them to the people you see walking on your everyday Street and so just even that difference of like, name someone who's not in Hollywood or name someone who is not kind of this like picture perfect version of who you think we should be. And goes back to what we talked about earlier just about the importance of the he Managing ourselves, but then also the humanity we give others and seeing them as unique individuals and what they have to offer not necessarily as like these global celebrity figures representing all of Asian Pacific Islander communities everywhere.
Yeah, yeah. But it's, you know, it's so hard for people to do when they don't see us represented at all right, like they can't see the fullness of our humanity when they don't even see us. Period. On TV Anywhere.
Yes, yes, absolutely. What is your your hope for these projects? Like? What's your hope that what comes out of these projects? What if there's any policies? Or what do you hope that comes out of all of this work?
So, I hope, and particularly with this large needs assessment project, a lot of times when Asian Americans enter conversations, in policy or research in these spaces, we're often advocating to be acknowledge, right? But because of stereotypes, and biases, like the model minority myth, once we enter those spaces, we're automatically pitted against other communities of color. And we end up trying to argue for resources that don't expand upon our recognition, they end up being accessible only if those same funders take away from other communities of color. And that is a huge, that's obviously not what we want. We want equity for all of our communities. And we want resources and we want, we want support, right? So. So I hope that what comes out is yes, that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders become part of health equity discussions and policies in increased funding and resources, but not at the expense of our sibling communities. And what we're what we're hoping is that people see the nuance in our communities that we're not, you know, all high, achieving high education, blah, blah, blah, like there are research demonstrated there very, very clear needs, within our communities, and particularly vulnerable communities, populations that currently don't have enough support. So we're trying to bring some of some of some more resources to those communities, and trying to push back against these model minority narratives of lack of need. Because what that what we do is we don't generate the data. And then we use the lack of data to make the conclusion that there's no need, and then without that need, there's no funding, right. So just generating generating data and data that's nuanced proves that there is need and then hopefully, will lead to more more resources for our communities. So that is ultimately the goal of this particular project. And just brought brought more broadly in the work that I do. I want the communities that I partner with, to continue to thrive. But hopefully with fewer barriers in place, right that we can through the work that we do bring more resources bring more recognition, and more compassion and humanity to these communities.
Yeah, I think that's incredibly powerful because it's, it reminds me of and like I said earlier, I've known you actually a really long time now like all of my doctoral career. And I teach research and program evaluation at Palo Alto University. And I had an Asian student want to do a project on like stop patient hate or street violence and was just having a hard time finding information and was able to connect her with APA and other organizations already kind of doing that work. And then that's when I found your or website and all of the awesome stuff you're doing. But just the small the drop of just seeing how excited she was to find research and data, like in communities that she wants to work with by researchers that look like her and identifies her and realizing how incredibly important and impactful that is. And we aren't giving that enough credit either. So just the fact that finding your website for her was really exciting to be like, oh, like there are people doing this work. And I don't feel like fully alone, even though there may not be a lot of people in my small circle or my community right now doing that work.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, we still are dealing with pipeline issues, in training, right, that we don't have enough faculty of color to support students and mentor students, and expand our pipeline. So organizations like the Asian American psych Association, like APS division, 45 are so so critical to make to create spaces where, where students and early career folks can find community can find support, especially if they're not getting it at their home institutions. So part of my commitment as an academic, as a faculty member, as somebody who's no longer a trainee or early, I guess, I'm not really career anymore. My commitment is, is not just to my own students at my home institution, but like, as many, as many students as reached out to me and there, and now I have this, like, our like army of trainees all across the country who have reached out to me because they don't have the support, because they don't have the access or networks, that, that I was fortunate to have. I feel committed to doing this. And it's going to take more than like me individually to grow out our pipeline. But I think it is really important for more senior folks in our fields to take on that responsibility. Because students are there and they're, they're excited to get involved in research to learn, you know, clinical counseling skills to, to, to try to, like build careers that can serve the communities. But it's really hard to do that without really good mentorship and without mentors facilitate facilitating opportunities for them to grow.
Yeah, I really do love that. And I also I want to dispel the myth. So like, if you're not in psychology, you can't you don't feel comfortable doing division 45. There's also association for multicultural counseling development in ACA, they also have an Asian American concerns group in that organization. So just realizing that there are so many communities out there, it just takes more work than it probably should to find them. But people are waiting for you and excited to have you and, and want to see you grow and want to pour into you. And yeah, I feel inspired. Like I'm excited for like, doctor saw army of trainees worldwide. I'm just like, I hope that they know I love you. And so they don't come for me, but it's a different, different conversation. It's completely. So as we're wrapping up, I have lots of questions for you. Are you ready for questions? Ready? Alright, so talking about your work and really talking heavily in research right now. I don't want to leave out like we said trainees and future clinicians and school counselors and all those. What advice or recommendations do you have for like master students and doctoral students who hear this podcast and want to do community based work or want to include these practices in maybe their clinical aspects as well
My advice is, don't do it. If you don't actually love your communities. Because the work is hard. It is often unrecognized, uncompensated. You might invest in a particular project that ends up going nowhere. So those are the realities, right of doing community engaged work. So don't do it unless you really, really love it. But if you do, then I would stay, say jump in and jump in with a spirit of humility, and wanting to learn rather than jumping in as an expert wanting to help necessarily, you will be able to use your skills and you have a ton of skills to offer communities. When you enter communities with a spirit of wanting to learn, then your skills will best be utilized. Like if you're listening, and you're learning, you'll figure out how best to use your skills. And you might be surprised, like when I started working with that newcomer refugee community, I have, I have and had no experience in ESL I, I still don't, I'm not, I'm not an ESL person, or expert. But that was what the community needed. And I realized I could leverage other skills, right, I could leverage the resources of my institution to buy books for students, I could leverage the resources of my institution to access volunteers. So but if I had come in with just, you know, my expert hat, I would not have been able to listen and provide, like access to some of the capital, social capital, you know, materials, whatever that that I have. So I would say do that first. And then it'll come like what what figuring out how best to use your skills will come once you've developed that partnership, once you've developed those relationships, but you can, but that doesn't come unless you have the right spirit, when you enter.
Yeah, such great advice, I was caught off guard, but do love that you started with, that we really shouldn't do this work. If we're not committed to our community, I think that there's an overwhelming guilt of like you should be giving back to the community. And in some ways, you very much should. But if you feel like that work does not bring you joy, it's actually more harmful to you and the community, if you're feeling like you're forcing yourself, or forcing your practice or whatever it may be to do that work to begin with.
Yeah, for sure. And we yeah, we shouldn't, it should, we should have spirits of like, have joy in doing this work. Because frankly, none of us are going are making a ton of money, right to do it. So if the if the work doesn't bring us joy, what is the point of doing it? And if if our partnerships are not fulfilling, if our relationships are not fulfilling whether they're professional or personal, why are we in? Right? So? Like it? Yeah, like that? You don't have to? And it certainly does, like you mentioned, more harm than good to try to force relationships, partnerships, engagements with communities that don't feel right.
Yeah, absolutely. So the next question is, for those of us who don't identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander, what are things that we can do to support that community? Or how do we make sure that we're not furthering white supremacy and the patriarchy and our overt practices against this community unintentionally?
That's a That's a great question. I mean, I think you know, these principles of ally ship or accomplice ship, whatever it's called. Apply, right? Like a lot of times, biases stereotypes persists, because we don't educate ourselves. So it starts with that. Making sure that you're you're learning about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and also accessing a growing body of literature and counseling, counselor education, other fields that have already been you know, are already published on with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. And of course building just like forming genuine relationships friendships with with folks. It's like The critical problem, like I mentioned, is just this lack of representation and understanding and acknowledgement of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. So doing your best to educate yourself and forming genuine relationships involved involving Asian American Pacific Islander students, mentoring them, like these are all really great ways to be good, good allies.
Yeah, I really like that as well of realizing that every community has stuff going on. And we all have, like, having humility. We're all messy human beings, we all have issues, all of those things. But really reminds me of how important it is to do your own work and really process within yourself what you need. And then making sure that your own fears, insecurities, or lack of knowledge of other community doesn't come out while you're trying to have these conversations. So really working within yourself. And then making sure your personal practices actually support your clinical or research practices towards supporting other communities and in helping them and yours as well.
Yeah, and I also want to add that, because of the way that our racial hierarchy is set up in the US, and how Asian Americans have, through the model, minority myth, through racial triangulation, been pitted against other communities of color, I think it's really important to acknowledge that, right? Like, we all have biases, because we are all under the weight of white supremacy. And, you know, being really reflective and willing to challenge one's own biases. And acknowledging, you know, that, that we have them is, is really, really important. Because, like we don't, it's hard to do the work with authenticity, if we are carrying pain, and anger and resentment towards a certain group, right. And we have to acknowledge that that exists, as well. And then for Asian Americans, and, you know, it's also really important to acknowledge and process and deal with anti blackness with other, you know, other biases that that are biases that we have towards other folks of color as well, like, white supremacy is a monster, right? And not only works in the direction of white folks against folks of color, but works to keep us divisive, as you know, bipoc communities, so all of that messiness to has to be worked through. Yeah.
Yeah, I can feel it better. While you're Dr. Anne Saw. Ah, good job. That was awesome. Oh, so the last question I asked everyone, which is just has it actually has nothing to do with your work, but more of what is one piece of advice that you would give current masters students or grad students who are currently in their programs and really not sure, like what they're going to do next, or what they'll do after their program.
My piece of advice is to embrace the uncertainty, it feels awful to not know exactly what your next step will be. And chances are, if you're in a master's or doctoral program, you're there because you have been an overachiever most of your life, and planned all the things to achieve success. And the the scary thing about graduating or getting close to graduating is that oftentimes what lies ahead is completely unknown. And it feels extra scary for folks who are super neurotic and high achievers, right but, but that uncertainty is part of the journey that we need to take and it's not always going to be the straightest path. It's not necessarily going to be what we had planned for, for ourselves. But if we have, I think, the drive the passion, the spirit of commitment, commitment, and joy, we'll get there. It's super scary to like face the unknown and not know what's on the other side, but I can promise almost that like, if you're if that you will find your path, it might be windy, it might not be exactly what you want right away, or you might have to like, try different things out that you will get there. And, and you'll figure it out, you'll figure out what works for you. And what feels right. According to your values.
I mean, there's no better way to end it than that. So you can find out your any saw on Twitter, on her website, her multiple awesome websites. I am obsessed. I love that there are photos of you and all of your lab mates, lab workers on your website with their bios, it's very ethnic minority. It's very giving all of the mood all of just the fabulousness of being a researcher today. And yeah, is there what are you doing next? Where should we look for you?
I would like to take a break. Please. I'm tired
This is not that podcast, so.
You can find me casually bicycling by the lake. No, I am continuing to do the work that I do in all the spaces that that will have me that will listen to me. Because the work doesn't stop. By but yes, I do plan on after the last two years of intense work. Taking a little bit of a break or slowing down a little bit. So that's that's the plan. But of course I can't. I can never do that. So I'm still around on all the social medias. Except for tick tock.
It's never too late. I'm going to convince you one day. Um, yes, thank you so much. This was just amazing. It's always a pleasure to talk with a friend and a colleague. But I always learned so much for you. And I just cannot say enough how grateful I am for your time. So thank you, Dr. Sol, for joining us. Thank you so much for listening to the thoughtful counselor podcast in the show notes. You can find more about Dr. Annie saw her website and her Twitter account. So please connect with her reach out to her and I hope all of you have a wonderful blessed evening, day or morning wheneber you might be listening to this. Bye.
The Thoughtful Counselor is, Désa Daniel, Raissa Miller, Aaron Smith, Jessica Tyler, Stacey Diane Arañez Litam, and me, Megan Speciale. Find us online at concept.paloaltou.edu. Our funding is provided by Palo Alto University’s Division of Continuing and Professional Studies. Learn more about them at concept.paloaltou.edu. The views and opinions expressed on The Thoughtful Counselor are those of the individual authors and contributors and don’t necessarily represent the views of other authors and contributors or of our sponsor Palo Alto University. So, if you have an idea for an episode, general feedback about the podcast, or just want to reach out to us, please drop us a line at email@example.com. Thanks for tuning in and we hope to hear from you soon.