I’ve done quite a few public events in the past that are typical for an author. I’ve done readings and I’ve also participated in a few book fairs. However, never have I done a presentation about my work as a writer before, in the format of a guest lecture for a college class.
I have a friend who teaches Asian American studies at a community college, and last fall, she approached me with the idea of having me come in and talk about what I do as an Asian American writer. We went back and forth on this over the course of a few months, and by the beginning of this year, she confirmed my appearance when she included me in the schedule featured in her syllabus. Upon receiving the PDF of the document, I was excited. But then I realized that I need to put this presentation together somehow.
Apart from presenting for a college class, I had to keep in mind that this was specifically for an Asian American studies course. I had to think of a unique way to go about this, even though I rarely ever make presentations like this before. It wasn’t until I sat down with my notebook to outline the presentation that it then hit me how I can approach this: I had to get angry.
Not actually angry, but rather, I got inspired by Angry Asian Man; the Phil Yu-run blog about almost everything imaginable going on in Asian America. He does a weekly segment where he’ll spotlight someone from the community as the Angry Reader of the Week. Each person will always answer the same questions; such as “Who are you?”, “What are you?,” Where are you from?,” What do you do?,” etc. While I have friends and acquaintances who’ve been featured as Angry readers in the past, I myself have never been asked to do it, and so therefore, I never had the opportunity to answer these questions until now.
So the questions became the basis for organizing my presentation. Much like the questions Phil would ask his readers, I managed to cover a lot of ground that I found appropriate to address for this Asian American studies course. Apart from talking extensively about the work I do as a writer, I also went in-depth about my identity as someone who is not only Filipino American, but also mixed race, my journey with coming to terms with and embracing these parts of myself, and what that means to have someone like me in the field of work that I do.
It’s because that so much ground was being covered that at times, I felt my presentation became a little scattered and I rambled a bit in some areas over others. But as my friend assured me after the fact, the outcome was overall good and that her students asked me more questions than they would ask her on any other day. Also, because one can cover only so much ground when talking about Asian American studies, I also had hit upon topics that she hadn’t gotten around to addressing; particularly, the subject of being a mixed race Asian.
Apart from not making presentations that often, I’m also not a big talker. That is why I’m glad I had this experience. It serves as motivation for me to improve for future opportunities.
So I want to thank my friend for having me and thank her students for taking the time to listen to what I had to say. I know I covered a lot in my presentation, but I hope you took something away from it.
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