Yang Zhang—2014 Fellow
Year: Class of 2016
Major: Biochemistry and Asian Studies, Chemistry (minor)
Organization: Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans
I conducted an evaluation on Asian homelessness with Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. Homelessness is a hidden problem among Asian residents in Minnesota. Largely because of their cultures and traditional values, residents of Asian descent don’t tend to seek public channels for help. This population is highly underestimated and is thus referred to as the “hidden population.” The goal of this project was to expose this hidden problem among Asian communities. I interviewed homeless youths and adults to construct a narrative of how they become homeless. One of the biggest problems with homelessness is misunderstandings, stereotypes, and stigmatization that make it hard for us to help others. From this experience I understood that homelessness is much broader than I expected. It is both the problem itself and the symptoms of other social problems and instabilities.
This fellowship experience really expanded my horizon and broke my comfort bubble. I visited some places I wouldn’t ever imagine to go and talked to some people that I wouldn’t ever imagine to cross path with. I embraced that opportunities and challenges along the way that made me think bigger, wilder, and fancier.