Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Spotlights

AAPI Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have made to American history, society, and culture. To celebrate this month, we want to spotlight just a few of our players in the AAPI community who shared some of their experiences in quidditch and their heritage with us.

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) History Month began in June 1977. Reps. Frank Horton and Norman Y. Mineta introduced a House resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as AAPI Heritage week. In July 1977, Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed a bill to extend the week-long celebration to a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as AAPI Heritage Month was signed into law. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 as the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

AAPI Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have made to American history, society, and culture. To celebrate this month, we want to spotlight just a few of our players in the AAPI community who shared some of their experiences in quidditch and their heritage with us. 

Maxine Gutierrez joined San Jose State University (SJSU) quidditch her sophomore year in 2017. In her first year, she played as both chaser and beater, attended multiple fantasy tournaments, refereed at quidditch Mexico Nationals in Mexico City, and competed at USQ Cup 11 in Round Rock, Texas. After that she trained as a full time beater with the SF Argonauts and dedicated many hours behind the scenes as president and co-captain working with SJSU Club Sports to quickly foster individual player growth and rebuild a sustainable, smart, and close-knit team. She also played for UWestA in Vancouver and attended a Buckbeak Riders practice in Valencia, Spain. 

Douglas Tran plays as a beater. He started playing for University of Texas at San Antonio his junior year in college and captained his senior year. He currently plays for The Lost Boys Quidditch Club. He also coached and captained Team Vietnam at World Cup 2018 in Italy.

Angela Song is a beater playing for Boston University Quidditch. She started when she first came to college in 2019 after seeing the team at the college club fair and was looking for a sport to play  having come from a sports background.

Michael Vong got started in quidditch in 2015. He did not play for a college team but was instead recruited by a friend to play for a now defunct team; the South Bay Blazers. From there he’s played for six different teams including; the Silicon Valley Vipers, then the Crimson Elite, the Salt Lake City Hive, the London Unspeakables, the Fighting Farmers, and most recently The Lost Boys Quidditch Club. Outside of playing he has been doing photography after picking it up for quidditch. 

Sonyun Annie Lee first started playing quidditch in 2015 while she was an exchange student in Norway. She played there for a semester before going back to Korea where she was born and raised. She joined a quidditch team in Korea and played for them until coming to the United States for her Master’s degree. She took a break from playing while finishing up her degree and then relocated to California where she now plays for the Bay Area Breakers. She started playing as a chaser but has been working to switch to playing as a beater.

Lulu Xu started out with Boston University Quidditch. She also played on QC Boston, Boston Forge with MLQ, and she is co-founding a new Boston-based team called Boston Pandas in the fall. She has won a few national and international championships, and has been a beater on the US National Team since 2018 and also helps coach the Harvard Horntails.

Tell us about your heritage. What aspects of your heritage do you think you carry with you the most?

“I am a second generation Filipino American from San Jose, CA. I am the eldest daughter of Filipino immigrants and have familial roots in the U.S., Metro Manila, and the Philippine provinces of Bulacan, Batangas, and Ilocos Norte. Heritage consists of intergenerational narratives along with sociocultural identity, whether it be tangible or intangible. My name, the food I eat, the languages I understand, they carry a history of colonization, resilience, and cultural diversity.” - Maxine

“With my parents being first generation immigrants, they always worked really hard to get where they are, what they wanted for me, and the best for me. I use that to model the things I do in my life to strive to be the best version of myself.” - Douglas

“I strongly introduce myself as a Korean American because I identify as both a Korean and an American. Not only because of the legal system, because I do hold both a Korean passport and an American passport, but it’s not just that. I understand and own the culture that I have from Korea and America. I was born in America but my parents were Korean. At one point we moved to Korea and I spent my time from elementary school to high school there, so I do sometimes get a bit of culture shock.” - Angela

“In terms of my heritage, I am Chinese American. My family immigrated from China pretty early on and mostly grew up in Vietnam, and from there my dad immigrated to America. My brother,(who also plays quidditch on the Bay Area Breakers) and I were born in America along with my younger sister. I definitely identify with my Chinese heritage a lot more than my American heritage but it’s not something I get to explore very much now after moving to Utah three years ago.” - Michael

“My heritage can’t really be compartmentalized as aspects that I carry with me or summarized by traditions that my family celebrates. My experiences as a Chinese American and a first-generation immigrant are parts of my identity that shape every aspect of my life in good and bad ways. I don’t think I can really articulate its impact on me on a deeper level in just a couple sentences.” - Lulu 

How has your heritage shaped you into the person you are today?

“I first realized that I was a part of two different but interconnected cultures when I had to do a cultural heritage presentation in first grade. After over 330 years of Spanish colonialism the Philippines experienced nearly 50 years of American colonization, and along with that a rich political and economic history of trade and migration. I feel lucky to have been raised in the Bay Area where there is a large Asian American and diverse immigrant community. I enjoy finding similarities with other people’s backgrounds while also being exposed to different perspectives.” - Maxine 

“Nothing is ever handed to you and that you always have to work for what you want. Only I can work to become who I want to be. Also with being so family-oriented I was able to really learn to appreciate and truly care for those around me. I strive to help anyone with anything I can at all times.” - Douglas

“In a Korean household, if you’re the first born child you are THE guinea pig. You have to go through a lot of stuff and you cannot complain. I have three siblings, who are a lot younger than me. Once they were born, I started to feel the responsibility of the oldest child, like I was the representative of my family. Whenever there were family gatherings or my parents social gatherings, I had the responsibility of holding the best image. This kind of shaped me now into being a little more passive. By that I mean, I would rather listen and absorb and figure out what’s going on before I make my path.” - Angela

“Growing up in my hometown of San Jose, there's a very strong Asian American community there - Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian - and it built a very strong sense of community, which is something I find very important for myself. I think this is something I’ve really enjoyed about quidditch as well, that sense of community. Outside of that, it has also helped me grow some thicker skin.” - Michael

“There are lots of superficial ways I've been impacted from growing up in a non-American culture. I speak mandarin (more Chinglish now) to my parents. I was genuinely shocked in my first year of college when I learned that not everyone owns a rice cooker. My family exclusively used chopsticks and we didn’t own any forks until I was in high school when someone accidentally left a single fork at our house. I call all my parents’ friends “aunt” and “uncle” so it still freaks me out when my non-Asian friends call other parents- or especially their own parents- by their first names. It also makes me anxious when people wear shoes in the house.” - Lulu 

Are there any traditions your family has related to your heritage?

“Filipino cuisine is an underrated, hidden gem and consists of many hearty stews and mixtures of vegetables, fruits, and meats, with blends of influence from Spain, China, India, and Southeast Asia. We eat with a spoon and fork (and sometimes hands) and pair dishes with rice. We always celebrate birthdays, Christmas, and New Years with lots of family, friends, food, and music.” - Maxine

“As far as holidays, we celebrate Lunar New Years (around February) and the Moon Festival (around August). We celebrate Lunar New Years by going to festivals for Lion Dance shows and light firecrackers at home. Lighting firecrackers in front of your house is supposed to bring good luck. It is very common in my heritage to be very family-oriented. We always spend big holidays as one big family and plan vacations together. We are very close with one another.” - Douglas

“Since Korea is also like a Confusionist country, my family commemorates our ancestors' death dates. We will gather as a family and remember our family members who have passed away. This can be kind of difficult to fit into your schedule because we tend to go around midnight, but I think we’re going to try to go earlier instead of so late.” - Angela

“The big one is Lunar New Year, usually around that time it’s a big family celebration. It’s a very rare occasion to get all of my immediate family as well as aunts and uncles to come down and sit down to have a meal together. So this is something that gives me something to look forward to each year.” - Michael

How has your heritage influenced your experience in quidditch?

“SJSU had three Filipino Americans on the team at one point which is pretty incredible. I’ve always enjoyed the diversity and inclusiveness of the team, from academic majors to heritage.” - Maxine

“Growing up in the setting to always earn what I want put me in a position to always be driven to be more and bring anyone I can along with me. Anything I do in quidditch I always look at what I did and ask myself how can I be better, faster, or more efficient.” - Douglas

“In high school whenever the coach said something we would give them our full attention and we would be like ‘Yes, you are right.’ We would follow whatever direction they would tell us because they clearly knew what they were doing; I tried to bring that to quidditch as well. But I’m trying not to follow that so strictly now because it doesn’t fully fit my environment now. I still follow the coach, just not as strictly as I did back then.” - Angela

“When I played in Norway, I was the only Asian woman on the team, and it was very interesting because I felt so much smaller than my teammates. I was never that small by Korean standards” - Sonyun

“I’ve talked before about how I feel like I have to fight against stereotypes of Asian women in all aspects of my life, and it’s no different in sports. I’ve played on countless teams where my captains or opponents did not pay me any attention, even compared to other women on the team; presumably because I didn’t look like their idea of an athlete. Usually they changed their minds at the end of a tournament, but every time I play with new players I felt like I had to prove myself. Additionally, I have practical immigrant parents who were supportive of me playing sports as a hobby, but who also largely felt like sports were a distraction from school. To date, they’ve come to see me play in one quidditch series and then left before the end because a plant store was closing - I don't take it personally though. I’m still pretty surprised by the dedication from parents that come watch their kids play in tournaments!” - Lulu 

What brings you joy in the quidditch community / what is your favorite quidditch memory?

“My favorite memories on the field include scoring my first goal as a rookie during a game against UCLA and playing at Nationals in 2018. Off the field, I treasure so many traveling memories and post-practice meals with my teammates. I first joined quidditch because of my childhood love for Harry Potter and athletic activities, but the people are what made me stay.” - Maxine

“What brings me the most joy in the quidditch community are the people I’ve met. We all come from different backgrounds and have so much to offer. We grow to become family to those around us, and family means a lot to me. I go on countless trips with friends I made along the way and get to experience what this world has to offer with them. My favorite quidditch memory is winning my first regionals here in the West.” - Douglas

“I love the fact that it’s a safe community for everyone. My school is prominently white and I felt isolated in a sense because I didn’t see anyone who had resemblance to me. But my team listens to me and they absorb what I have to say. They ask me about things that are going on and I appreciate that because they try to understand the situation instead of just believing things they see online.” - Angela

“I love the teams and the camaraderie. Growing up I didn’t play a lot of team sports so quidditch is definitely the most cohesive sport I’ve played. As for one of my favorite memories, there was this time I banded together with a lot of West Coast players and traveled to Canada to play as an unofficial team against a few Canadian teams. It was a group of friends and people we’ve admired and wanted to play with for a long time and it was a lot of fun to hang out with them.” - Michael

"I like the diversity and the team experience brings me a lot of joy. All of the teams I’ve played on have been pretty diverse and I really felt like we were a team. I really love the feeling that is like ‘You alone may not be as good as the other person that you are facing, but with tactics and teamwork, you can beat that person’. Especially after a tournament, I always feel so connected to the others. That feeling is what makes me continue playing.” - Sonyun

“'I've been so impressed by the tough conversations that so many people in the community were willing to engage in and grow from over the last year. They are topics that can impact people long after they're done playing quidditch.” - Lulu 

Anything you’d like to add or shout out?

“Shoutout to SJSU Quidditch, thanks for being my quidditch/undergraduate college family.” - Maxine

“I read this article by, I think Lulu, where she talked about the quidditch community being prominently white and she talked about the microaggressions and discrimination and I understand where she’s coming from. There’s this image or bias that not a lot of Asian people do sports. I want to shout out the people who may not appear to be your usual athletes. Listen to them and be open; you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.” - Angela

“I would definitely give a shout out to Shirley Lu who has been a very good friend, a fantastic person, and a pillar of the West quidditch community (if not the entire quidditch community).” - Michael

“There are a lot of people but two people in particular are Elizabeth and Lisa, who I played with in Norway. They were very inclusive when I first joined quidditch. That’s the spirit that I wanted to carry on throughout all the teams I played on.” - Sonyun

Best pump up song before you play/or volunteer/ref/snitch?

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough - played by my teammate in the car to hype us up while trying to stay warm in the car at regionals 2019.” - Maxine

“Steal My Girl by One Direction! I will also listen to any Cardi B songs, honestly. 6 Foot 7 Foot by Lil Wayne and Cory Gunz is also a vibe.” - Angela

“X Gon’ Give it to You - DMX has always been a very big hype song!” - Michael

““My pump up song recently has been Levitating by Dua Lipa. Jopping' by Super M as well!” - Sonyun

“I’ll Make a Man Out of You- Mulan soundtrack.” - Lulu

Thank you everyone who talked to us about their experiences in and out of quidditch. Your perspectives are greatly valued as well as your contributions on and off the pitch. This community is better with you in it.