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  • Ella Wu

A #hyphenatedAsians POV: AAPI Narrative Podcast

The Universal Asian got to know the founders of the "AAPI Narrative Podcast": Nhi, Rachelle, and Zi. Visit their website, and listen to episodes on Spotify, Apple Podcast, or other platforms.

Tell us about yourselves. Where are you from, how did you all meet?

Rachelle (R): Hi, my name’s Rachelle Quintela. I’m a first generation Filipino-American. I was born and raised in San Francisco along with Nhi and Zi. I moved down to Southern California for school and work, and now I’ve transitioned back up to the Bay Area to work in property management and this podcast.

Nhi (N): Hi everyone, I’m Nhi. I’m a first generation Vietnamese-American. I was also born and raised in San Francisco, but now I’m in Irvine, California. I am in higher education, specifically Student Affairs right now.

Zi (Z): Hello everyone, I’m Zi. I’m Chinese-American, and I was raised in San Francisco. I moved down to Irvine for college, and how I met Rachelle and Nhi—well, Nhi and I went to the same middle school, and Nhi introduced me to Rachelle when we went to college so we could all be roommates together.

What inspired you to start the podcast?

R: With the rise of all these podcasts that are coming up, we have been listening to a lot of different ones individually—and like Zi said, we’ve known each other for a really long time—and once I moved back up to the Bay area we still wanted to keep those conversations and our bonds super strong. Ultimately, we wanted to share our own experiences as Asian-American women and amplify our unique narratives, as well as other unique narratives within the Asian-American and Asian community. Because, you know, there are a lot of stories around the world that aren’t being told, and we want to highlight those.

N: To add on to what Rachelle said, there’s not a lot of representation on mainstream TV, but we do start to see more of that through online platforms, like YouTube. Being able to create this space and add onto that is really important. Everyone’s experience is so different. There are different intersectional identities that encompass how we navigate the world, and even between the three of us, it will be different how we perceive things or respond to specific things. We also don’t encompass every Asian experience. With that, we hope to continue sharing different stories and learn with the community as well.

How do you choose your guest speakers?

Z: During the past three seasons, we either reached out to community members or those who were interested would submit an interest form. We will review the submissions between the three of us, and if we have the ability to contact the person or organization, we would do so. Moving into the later stage of our podcast, we will be revamping our outreach. We’re still working on that process, so be on the lookout for updates in Season 4! It’s going to be something different.

What goes into the making of a podcast episode?

R: There are so many steps. I didn’t even realize all the nitty-gritty details that went into making a podcast when we first started. Generally, we would create an outline of topics or questions we’d want to ask ourselves or the guest speaker, if we have one coming on. If there is a guest speaker, we would do research to ensure that the conversation and the episode is tailored to their specific highlights, or their story. After we record our episode, we spend roughly 10 to 15 hours editing each recording. We do those in-house at the moment. With each review of the episode, we want to make sure the audio is nice and crisp, and that the details are in order. Then, we take a step back and listen to the overall content to make sure that it flows really well and is an easy follow for the listener. I just shortened all our blood, sweat, and tears into two minutes; but yeah that’s pretty much how it goes.

How do you build your audience?

Z: There are multiple ways, but first we connect and share episodes with relevant pages. For example, we post new episodes on the Asian Podcast Network page every week—shout out to Jerry Won. We engage with the community and connect the topic or episode back to the listeners. We also cross-collaborate and connect with those who have similar visions, whether it’s sharing their own experiences as Asian-Americans, or creating a space for others to share their experiences. And, the last thing is word of mouth. We connect with those in our personal circles. We get support from our friends and our family, so that’s really nice.

What advice do you have for aspiring podcasters?

N: I would say have a central theme or focus. Check out other podcasts that cover similar topics, and really just take a leap of faith. Sometimes, we get so fixated on little details that we don’t even take the first step. So, it’s okay to learn as you go.

Z: Be yourself. I feel like listeners can tell when you’re not being your most authentic self. And have fun with it, that’s the most important part.

R: Totally agree. Another thing I would add is don’t worry too much about what other people think. At the end of the day, it’s your podcast. Everything that you create should matter to you; otherwise, you won’t have the drive to see it to the finish line.

How does the AAPI Narrative Podcast combat the model minority stereotype?

N: I think I have this conversation a lot with my students, and sometimes it’s a really new concept for people. For those who don’t know the model minority myth, it’s a false belief that all Asian and Asian-American experiences are homogenous. That can be pretty detrimental to the community. It strips away diverse identities, cultures, languages, and histories that shape a person’s unique perspective and experience. Like I said earlier, the three of us navigate the world differently; even if we are under the same umbrella, it doesn’t mean we are the same. Our podcast focuses on sharing those different experiences, narratives, and stories that don’t always fit into this expectation of what it means to identify as Asian or Asian-American, so that’s how we combat the model minority myth.

What are your thoughts on the rise of hate against Asians and Asian-Americans in the pandemic era? How can we fight against it, and how can we, as a society, heal?

N: For me personally, it’s been pretty difficult. It’s been difficult in the workspace, it’s been difficult at home just looking at the news, and as you know, a lot of it has been happening in the Bay Area. Knowing that your loved ones are there, that it impacts them…it’s hard. I think it’s particularly hard for me because I’ve directly been told that someone has been impacted, either someone I know or a family friend. That really is difficult, when it hits home. I think it’s hard when people deny it, and deny that it’s happening, or that it’s not something that should be made into a problem. This isn’t new. The U.S. has a very long history of discrimination against communities under the Asian umbrella. With the rise of it right now, I think it’s important to have those conversations. I also struggle a lot with the expectation for me to talk about it. It puts the burden on the people who are impacted, and I know that it’s important to talk about it, but everyone responds in different ways and has their own way of showing up for their community.

Z: When I first heard about this it was through social media. I was actually very angry and confused, because a lot of the victims we saw looked very similar to my parents, my uncles, my aunts. They’re taunted, they’re murdered, they’re shoved, their faces are slashed, they’re set on fire, and they’re beaten. It’s just very saddening to see that. How do you fight against that? I would say the first place to start is education. Teach them everything. For instance, in World War II, there was a combat team that was almost entirely Asian. However, in American history, we were never mentioned or honored. Our stories should be included, because we matter. Secondly, I think politicians should keep fighting to pass bills that protect the AAPI community. Not everyone in this world will stand up for us, but I encourage everyone who believes that humanity still matters to stand with us and speak on our behalf. Hate crimes targeting our community need to stop. They need to stop now, for the generations that come after us.

R: I totally resonate with everything that’s been said. I’m in a similar boat where it’s just…this past year has been really tough. Not only with your health, but with the rise of hate, and all these different emotions come up for me. The most significant emotion that comes up for me is disbelief. We’ve had so many different advances, technological or otherwise, within the United States, but why is this still on the back burner? When I think about this question, “How do we fight against it?—there’s so many different avenues. I think the most significant step for me is communication, and having that space to be able to open up and have these discussions. Now is the time to shine a spotlight on certain things and bring them up, although they may be very uncomfortable to talk about.



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