Kent Student Creates a Web Platform Discussing Asian Culture Entitled “Woodblock Press”

Scarlett Chu, Campus Reporter

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At the 2019 Asian American Footsteps Conference at The Hotchkiss School, which offers students from independent schools the chance to connect with other students of Asian/Asian-American heritage, Emily He ‘21 met Jeanna Shau from Milton Academy. The two had long discussions on how Asian students are not confident to speak up against microaggression or express their opinions freely, partly due to the stereotype of Asians always tending to their own business and not participating in the larger societal circle. 

Both He and Shau wanted to build a platform for Asian students to express their opinions freely and embrace their identity with fellow students of similar backgrounds and cultures. And so, the Interscholastic Asian American Quarterly (IAA) was born.  

The IAA is an independent, student-run organization that unites and empowers Pan-Asian students across independent high schools in New England through the online platform Woodblock Press. This online publication facilitates the sharing of Asian student experiences and voices in individual schools with the broader Pan-Asian community in the belief that cultural dialogue must transcend the geographical separation of school campuses. 

Woodblock Press showcases art, creative writing, opinion editorials, interviews with Asian and Asian-American influencers, personal narratives, current events, and humor. It also brings attention to issues of identity and mental wellbeing in the Pan-Asian community.

He is the founder and the editor-in-chief of this newly-formed organization, and soon their second issue will be published for everyone to see. However, the path leading up to this platform’s existence, and its further maintenance, was not easy. Gathering support from Kent’s Mrs. You and Ms. Hall, He and Connie Tu ‘21, who is the representative and editor for Kent’s IAA chapter, spent the majority of their time on preparation work before they could officially launch this organization—coming up with a web design, the publication’s name, and what they were going to feature. 

After the summer of 2019 and more discussion on the themes and parameters of articles, He contacted several of the schools who had attended the conference but found that it was difficult to gather submissions on time. Moreover, Emily found it difficult to find enthusiastic students here at Kent to write for the publication, as everyone already has a heavy workload.

He nearly dedicated all her free time after class to the first Woodblock Press issue, looking through articles—ten each week—and editing them with only a handful of editors available to help. Regardless, “it’s worth it,” she says. Seeing the finished product, and learning that there were more than one thousand views from different countries—she smiles about having someone from Turkey clicking onto the website—she feels pleased with their final product. “At one point, I was kind of frustrated because at Kent not really a lot of people wanted to get involved, but seeing the great feedback from other schools and knowing people like this, I knew I had to do it,” she says. He thinks it is really great to read the opinions of Asians from Kent and different schools, pointing out Dora Gao’s ‘23 and Scarlett Chu’s ‘23 submissions. 

Here is the link to the website: https://woodblock-press.squarespace.com