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Podcast ‘Dear Asian Girl’ brings expression, conversation from around the world

Donning a pair of headphones, a girl stands in front of a microphone and begins to read from a book. The podcast “Dear Asian Girl” casts a light on various topics related to the Asian community. (Courtesy of Dear Asian Youth)

By Lex Wang

Jan. 30, 2024 3:22 p.m.

This post was updated Feb. 1 at 7:52 p.m.

“Dear Asian Girl” is using its audio platform to celebrate Asian voices.

The podcast – which has recently rebranded to become more inclusive of non-binary, transgender and other LGBTQ+ individuals – aims to connect Asians around the world by discussing their shared experiences and identity, said second-year business economics and public affairs student and one of the podcast co-hosts Meghna Nair. Since the pilot episode first aired in July 2020, the podcast’s staff has explored various topics of interest to the Asian community, such as the model minority myth, fetishization and Asian beauty standards.

“It’s very much a place for authentic expression,” Nair said. “We’re often silenced and overlooked and misrepresented, and we’re here to be a voice of authenticity and a voice of reality.”

[Related: Monica Youn examines US history of Asian erasure in Hammer Museum Poetry Series]

Nair was inspired to apply after listening to some of the episodes and realizing how much she emotionally resonated with the topics being discussed, she said. Particularly for those who may be in a dark place, Nair presents “Dear Asian Girl” as a voice of comfort and reassurance from individuals who have felt similarly before.

Although “Dear Asian Girl” functions as a creative outlet in which the co-hosts have full autonomy to express their own sense of humor and thoughts, the podcast is also intended to be a mindful space, said podcast manager Lindsay Kamikawa. Those in research roles on the team will create a script that lays out points of information prior to the recording session in order to ensure the co-hosts have the tools necessary to carry out an insightful conversation, added Kamikawa, a former Daily Bruin Arts contributor from 2014 to 2015.

The co-hosts stay spontaneous while recording, Nair said, often emphasizing certain items more than others or skipping some altogether. However, she added, the co-hosts always ensure the discussion maintains its relevance to the topic. Once the recording is cleaned up by the audio engineer, the episode is examined by the podcast’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to confirm the subjects at hand were broached with the utmost sensitivity, Nair said.

“I think it is incredibly rare to see a heightened, elevated, truly mindful space, with young people being utterly themselves – which is to say messy and it’s funny and wild and hilarious, or whatever it may be,” Kamikawa said. “It’s what drew me to this podcast, and what I feel like makes this podcast really unique and really loved by our listeners.”

Nair considers the DITF to be instrumental in how the team holds itself accountable. Because they approach from an outsider perspective, the committee catches content that may not be up-to-standard sensitivity-wise, Nair said. Isabel Leong, one of the other co-hosts of “Dear Asian Girl,” also said members receive sensitivity training during the onboarding process. Nair added that at the same time, the diversity within the team, including the co-hosts, researchers, managers, artists and illustrators, acts as a check for each other.

“We have so many people from so many different backgrounds that can all comment on a certain topic,” Nair said. “Not all of us are US-centric – a lot of us are in the UK, we have some in Australia, we have some scattered all over the world. That kind of diversity of perspective … has been able to teach me new things and teach me how to expand my mind.”

[Related: Eleonor Palabrica offers vulnerable insights on podcast ‘Unreliable Narrator’]

Each season has its own theme that revolves around how culture relates to Asian identities, with individual episodes varying from serious to lighthearted, Nair said. When discussing food-related topics in one season, for instance, the co-hosts had a conversation about the white gaze on Asian foods and its effects on how Asian children are raised, as well as another conversation on favorite household food traditions, Nair said. Kamikawa added that alongside the co-hosts, episodes may also occasionally feature guests, from historians to social influencers, who have expertise on the subject matter being talked about.

For those in high school and college or those around 18 years of age, being part of a community of people becomes particularly important as they learn about themselves during their formative years, said Leong, who is also a student at Carnegie Mellon University. Like Leong, Kamikawa said she hopes to see these individuals – who make up a large part of the podcast’s intended audience – find that community within “Dear Asian Girl.”

“What a unique privilege to be a part of an organization that is empowering people with the tools – which is intellectually but also emotionally – to be equipped to move through the world,” Kamikawa said. “I have a history that precedes me. I walk into a room with an army of women of Asian ancestry behind me. I’m stronger because of it. It is a superpower that I get to identify with this community. It makes me emotional, it’s a beautiful thing.”

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Lex Wang | Enterprise editor
Wang is the 2023-2024 Enterprise editor. Previously, she was the 2022-2023 Opinion editor, and prior to that, an assistant Opinion editor. She is Arts and Quad staff and also contributes to News, Sports on the men's volleyball beat, Copy, Design, Photo and Video.
Wang is the 2023-2024 Enterprise editor. Previously, she was the 2022-2023 Opinion editor, and prior to that, an assistant Opinion editor. She is Arts and Quad staff and also contributes to News, Sports on the men's volleyball beat, Copy, Design, Photo and Video.
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