Do, a student leadership staffer, is among a group of 10 people selected from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling.” He will travel to Washington, D.C., for a two-day visit May 4-5.
The White House has chosen University of Alabama at Birmingham student leadership staffer Quang Do as a 2016 “Champion of Change” and will recognize him and nine other individuals Wednesday, May 4.
Do is among a group of 10 people selected from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling.” He will travel to Washington, D.C., for his two-day visit May 4-5. There he will attend an awards presentation at the White House, serve on panels during the day, and speak about his work at UAB, his art and spoken word, as well as meet with peers and students, and attend a gala where President Barack Obama will give the keynote. He will also likely get the opportunity to read one of his poems and maybe more.
Do is coordinator of student leadership in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership in the Division of Student Affairs, where he has worked with the Multicultural Greek Council, Black Student Awareness Committee, the Multicultural Council, International Mentors, and a host of other organizations and programs.
As a spoken word poet, he has worked to empower AAPI youth and has extensive experience as a teaching artist facilitating writing/performance workshops using spoken word as a tool to help communities better understand the personal and cultural needs of the AAPI community. The themes of love, identity, oppression, compassion and humanity are all foundational to his poetry. Do is a multiple-time Grand Slam Champion of the Montevallo Poetry slam, TEDxBirmingham 2015 speaker and top finalist at the Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam.
Do graduated from UAB in 2012 with a degree in political science and an English creative writing minor. After graduation, he traveled to more than 100 colleges, high schools and conferences as a full-time touring and teaching artist.
|Do says he is driven to give a voice to the many Asian-Americans who have none. “The change happens through poetry and community building and having difficult conversations, something I feel that UAB really does push and wants to have," he said.
When people ask him when he became a poet, he says “pretty much since I learned to speak English in grade school.”
Do came to California with his family from Vietnam at the age of 3. When he was 13, the family moved to Alabama. As a child, he was the translator for his parents and had to bridge his understanding of the Vietnamese and American languages to help them understand.
“In Vietnam, there was no true medical care, so when I got a diagnosis from the doctor my parents freaked out, even if it was just a cold,” Do said. “I may not have known the exact Vietnamese word for insurance deductible; but there are ways for me to pull other things I know from Vietnamese to tell my parents, ‘hey, this is something we have to pay.’”
Do says he is driven to give a voice to the many Asian-Americans who have none. A lot of his work is focused on the model minority myth — the idea that Asian-Americans are the best of people of color, because they get good grades, do not get into trouble, work hard and are quiet.
“A lot of our brothers and sisters do not have college access, have high dropout rates in high school, have language barriers and other obstacles keeping them from success,” Do said.
He is passionate about his work at UAB, and his own work in poetry, because of the change he longs to make in the world.
“The change happens through poetry and community building and having difficult conversations, something I feel that UAB really does push and wants to have — not just superficial conversations, but real conversations that change our community, regarding health disparities, economic disparities, education disparities," Do said. "The UAB community, when they see something, they are not only willing to do something about it, but at UAB the faculty and staff we have here really push students to do something, to think of things differently, to fix that problem.” Do blogs at www.quangvdo.com and tweets under the handle @quangvdo.
During Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, the White House and White House Initiative on AAPIs are celebrating artists and advocates who have used unique channels and diverse platforms to tell powerful stories, increase awareness around key AAPI issues, and encourage diversity and inclusion in all sectors of society. These 10 individuals were selected for their leadership and tireless work to raise the visibility of diverse AAPI experiences and create dialogue around issues the community faces.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live-streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live at 3 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, May 4. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.
As part of AAPI Heritage Month, the White House is working with StoryCorps to share and document AAPI stories under #MyAAPIStory. To learn more, visit here.