Write an aphorism (a short truism) that alludes to who you are and/or what you believe.

I’ve always believed in that we must always remain critical, not as a way to be constantly pessimistic, but to continually push for more change and imagine better possibilities.

Why are you here with us as a Storyteller?

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I first heard about Project Ava while attending the Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU) Spring Conference in 2015, when I met Vanessa Teck since we were both in this now deactivated Asian American Feminists Facebook group. I spent the majority of my time as an undergraduate studying media and power, and the potential of alternative media to amplify marginalized voices to create change, so Project Ava seemed like a natural fit for that. I don’t consider myself much of a writer, but I did feel as if I had experiences and knowledge to share which were shaped by my entry into student activism and ethnic studies. I was never a fan of being demanded to educate people on issues of race, gender, etc., but in being able to share my stories on my own terms, I was able to connect with others in ways that I didn’t think was possible.

Where do you consider home?

I have never considered a physical place home for me. My mother often used to joke about our family as being somewhat rootless, always moving far from where we were from. I didn’t feel comfortable calling the Houston area my home growing up, as I had moved there as a young age from Cleveland. While I call Houston home now, since coming back to the Midwest, I’ve also understood the significance of this geographic space as central to developing my sense of identity. My earliest memory was starting pre-school and not being able to understand a word of English that everyone else spoke, and upon starting college at Northwestern, my “Asian-ness” once again othered me and I chose to seek out Asian American sociopolitical student spaces to understand my identity and our community.

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I’ve realized now that home for me is love, without boundaries and borders. Physical space is only a boundary if you treat it as one. I’ve found home most often within people – my family, my partner, and the friends and metaphorical families that have grown out of shared experiences, identities, and struggles.

Who inspires you?

I’ve noticed a pattern of Asian American women writers who were formerly attorneys casually making the switch to being successful writers, poets, comic book authors etc. of Asian American literature, so they’re currently inspiring me as a law student who still feels incredibly tied to my more creative passions and Asian American Studies even though I don’t currently have the time for any of that.

What impact do you want to have on the world?

My long-term goals are to have some kind of impact in dismantling our oppressive systems, which is why I’m currently in law school to learn how all of this was constructed in the first place. In terms of more tangible impact in my career, I hope to at least help some people use the legal system as it currently stands to address illegal discrimination, possibly in the area of employment law. I also want to continue to be part of this growing movement of visible, alternative media that’s challenging the mainstream narrative.

When did you find your passion/s?

I’ve found my passions in many areas and really early on, starting with music, art and dance, then later on in social justice. In high school, my entire life was consumed by playing flute in marching and concert band and trying to be the best marcher, best flute player, etc. I really loved playing flute and making music, but I think towards my last year I burned out and lost the joy in playing due to constant competition and the ways that I unhealthily put too much of my worth into my individual successes or failures. However, I was still incredibly passionate about band in general, and especially during marching season. The sense of community among us was unlike anything I had ever experienced and it was the first time I’ve felt the immense satisfaction of a community of people working together towards a collective goal.

I think my experience in music actually highly parallels my passion for social justice. Selfish reasons often underlied my initial investment into feminism and racial justice, but the community that I found challenged me to keep learning and understanding the necessity of solidarity in our work, recognizing the ways that our liberation is tied together, but also knowing when to center specific issues in our work as activists.

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How would you like to improve yourself?

There’s just a few basic things I know I could do better, such as eating better, sleeping more, and practicing more productive self-care such as cleaning up my apartment. I’d also love to learn how to handle anxiety and stress better than how I’m currently dealing with it, and especially make time for myself to write and do creative work.

Ava Love,

Theanne


If you’re interested in reading more works by Theanne, you can find them at the following links:

Written by Theanne Liu

Theanne is a current law student hoping to one day help subvert the inherent oppression within the legal system. When not spending her life studying in the library, she's binging and overanalyzing TV and YouTube, aggressively playing casual mobile phone games, and researching her next makeup purchase.