Finding a Community at ISU as an Asian-American

Just like any other college student, when I first came to Iowa State, I had to start over and meet new people. This is hard for everyone and it takes a lot of time.

Of course, I just started talking to people in my classes and my coworkers. I was making friends and socializing, but it just wasn’t quite the same. Somehow, I still felt lonely, as I wasn’t able to talk about specific issues that I was dealing with.

Towards the end of my first semester of my freshman year, I went to IMPAACT (ISU Making Progress for the Asian-American Community Today), which is an overnight retreat that teaches Asian-American students leadership skills and also serves as a way to connect us together. After that retreat, I started becoming friends with a few people that I met there. I continued this way for the rest of my freshman year.

In my second year, the previous creators of the IMPAACT retreat requested that it be student-led this time due to time constraints. I joined the committee because I remembered what I learned from when I went, and how vital it was for me. Through that, I met even more people and built friendships.

One friend in particular, Justin, saw that I was really struggling to feel comfortable here.

He reached out to me, and began inviting me to events. He always made sure I felt included and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, and to step up as a leader. And so I did. I took up more leadership positions within the Asian-American community at Iowa State.

That experience has been invaluable to me, and continues to be. I feel like I’m finally doing the things that I care about, and I feel that I’ve had someone encourage me through each step. Thank you, Justin.

Through my experiences, I have met more and more people along the way. After about two years of being at Iowa State, I finally feel I have found the group of people I can call my community.

Being one of less than 10 Asian-American students at my high school, my experience at Iowa State to meet other people with similar backgrounds and experiences as me has been incredible. I am so grateful to have this community here, and I hope that everyone else gets to have an experience like this.

My biggest takeaway is that it takes time to meet the people that make you feel like you don’t have to be ashamed of who you are. But that time is definitely worth it because you learn about what is important to you as a person, and you feel a bigger sense of comfort when you finally meet the right people.

If you feel lost in college, I encourage you to get involved in the communities you want to be a part of, and step out of your comfort zone. Even if it’s awkward at first, start conversations with people. It took me a long time, but I finally feel I’m beginning to find my new home. And you will too, if you haven’t already.

Good luck!

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