Asian Student Union to host annual RICE Conference

GVL / Courtesy - Austin Ngo
R.I.C.E. conference preview

Austin Ngo

GVL / Courtesy – Austin Ngo R.I.C.E. conference preview

Kate Branum

Life as a college student means dealing with various responsibilities and added pressures. As students are constantly reminded to maintain high grades and improve test scores, it becomes easy to adopt the habit of comparing personal work and accomplishments to those achieved by others.

On March 19, Grand Valley State University’s Asian Student Union (ASU) is hosting the annual RICE Conference held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the DeVos Center in downtown Grand Rapids. For 2016, the theme will be “Striving for Excellence.”

The RICE Conference (Realizing and Addressing Issues in our Culture and Education) is a formal academic and professional conference that provides an opportunity for students, professors and alumni to become further educated on current issues for Asian American individuals.

For the past 16 years, the conferences hold themes that promote Asian awareness and understanding of other cultures. This year, the theme stresses to students that perfection is impossible to achieve, as excellence is a standard set by the individual.

Andy Phan, co-event coordinator for ASU, came up with the theme based on his own experience as a college student. After close examination, he realized many other students on campus could relate to the issue.

“It’s a way to get out how I feel, personally, because the reason why I picked this theme is because I have pride in myself,” Phan said. “So, it’s how I strive to be the best I can be. Not to be perfect, just the best I can be to make myself feel good.”

Phan recognizes the importance for students to set their own standards, instead of trying to follow in the footsteps of others. Constantly comparing achievements with friends or classmates will hinder future success, he said.

“As an Asian American I don’t really know much about my culture, and me personally, I like this theme because it’s striving for excellence,” said Austin Ngo, co-event coordinator for ASU. “My family always pushed on, ‘You must be perfect; You have to get straight As.’ Striving for excellence really connects with me because I want to strive to be the best I can be.”

The event will consist of six different interactive and lecture workshops led by GVSU professors, as well as panel questions for GVSU alumni and professors. A networking event and a keynote speech, titled “Self-Branding,” will be delivered by returning RICE Conference speaker Jung Park.

“I think it will help students on campus to realize that perfection is impossible, but excellence is a standard you set for yourself,” Phan said. “Students won’t stress, ‘I have to be like this person or that person,’ they can just be the best they can be.”

Attendees will have an opportunity to make connections with professors and alumni, as well as participate in activities or discussions that provide tips for self-improvement.

There is no cost to attend, but students can register online. Since the conference is a professional event, business attire is required. In addition, a complimentary lunch will be provided.