Celebrating AAPI Month With Cathy Hong

Angel Xin ’26 in News | May 12, 2023

On Thursday, May 4, 2022, Pulitzer Prize Finalist Cathy Park Hong spoke at School Meeting, where she presented  her book Minor Feelings and her experience as an Asian-American author. Following School Meeting, Hong had lunch with members of the Pan-Asian Alliance (PAA) and hosted a follow-up reading at the Hutchins Gallery for interested students to learn more about the experiences that inspired her to write her book. Hong was invited to speak in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) month.
In addition to her all-School presentation, Hong hosted a workshop for the current Creative Writing courses. English Teacher Victoria Stitt described Hong’s workshop, part of which was having students write with inspiration from two prompts, “one sincere and one playful.” This activity “was great at breaking open everyone's creativity and getting everyone engaged, ” Stitt said. Stitt found Hong to be a “brave, honest, [and] intelligent” speaker who is a “wonderfully fitting representative” of the AAPI community. She admired the “bravery” that Hong demonstrated when writing Minor Feelings, an autobiographical book of essays that are a reflection of her complicated and multifaceted identity, and was fascinated by the “theme of belonging” present throughout the book. 
Churan Xu ’25, who attended all three events hosted by Hong, described her delivery as “clear, elegant and poised.” Xu was already familiar with Hong’s poetry before her visit, but the event gave her the opportunity to have a more “intimate and engaging” interaction with Hong. During Hong’s reading at the Hutchins Gallery, she elaborated more on her writing process. She emphasized the idea of coalition, encouraging aspiring artists to “form a community” to support each other rather than “viewing everyone else in the room as competitors.” Hong also elaborated on her struggles recovering from the “trauma and memories embedded in her subconsciousness” that writing about her experiences brought back. Xu found Hong’s recount of her writing process and her advice to be “incredibly powerful and useful.” Although  Xu described Hong as an "excellent and interesting" speaker, she also noted the danger of "generalizing Hong's experience to the wider AAPI community at Lawrenceville.”
Reflecting on Hong’s visit, Stitt noted that “we were just very lucky to have someone so honest, forthright, and deeply aware come speak.”