Rebecca Pan: From facing prejudice to spreading pride

Facing discrimination in the South, she now leads Asian Student Union (ASU) in hopes of helping others embrace their Asian culture.


Kylie Akiyama

Junior Rebecca Pan is the founder of Los Altos’ Asian Student Union (ASU). After facing prejudice before moving to Los Altos, she decided to create a club for all Asians to celebrate their heritage.

By Stella Huang, Staff Writer

“Ew! It’s that weird paper you’re eating. It’s so green!” Heard six-year-old Rebecca Pan as she let out a faint “sorry” and threw away her favorite snack. After the incident, Rebecca stopped bringing Asian food to school and replaced them with “acceptable” snacks like Lay’s potato chips and Lunchables.

She stopped wearing qipaos (traditional Chinese dresses) and speaking Mandarin in public, abandoning her favorite aspects of her culture.

“I was teased because of who I was, because of my race, and a lot of times people pinched their eyes small and did made fun of me for eating rice and roasted seaweed,” junior Rebecca said. “It really shocked me at first. I didn’t know that something like that could happen. I didn’t know that I would be judged based on what I looked like.”

While living in Missouri and Mississippi, she and other Asians would bond over their experiences. She and her close friends realized together that the inequality they faced was unacceptable. With the help of her supportive friends and family, Rebecca was able to deal with the discrimination.

“I dealt with prejudice. With time, I learned that people act this way because they are clueless about different cultures,” Rebecca said. “My parents have always raised me to be who I am, even if I was living in a place where there weren’t a lot of people that looked like me.”

Rebecca is the founder of the new Asian Student Union (ASU), a club formed to celebrate the diversity of Asian culture. She created the club to educate individuals on the value of respecting others’ cultures based on her own past experiences with prejudice.

When she moved to California in eighth grade, she brought her experiences with racial inequity with her and knew that she had to change herself. After coming to Los Altos her sophomore year, Rebecca started the K-pop club out of interest for the genre. She wanted people with similar interests as her to join the club and participate in activities that celebrated Korean culture. She soon realized that her true goal was to cultivate a community that respected and celebrated all Asian cultures.

She wondered why there was not an Asian Student Union at Los Altos if a Black Student Union, Iranian Student Union and Latino Student Union existed. She decided to step down from her position as K-pop club president and start anew with ASU in her junior year.

Rebecca is now working on ASU plans and goals for the future. On September 25, the club had its first mid-autumn festival potluck with mooncakes and other traditional Asian foods. In November, ASU will be having a Diwali celebration and working on discussions about cultural awareness in South Asia.

Rebecca has contacted ASUs from other schools and is inviting them to come to a conference in March. The purpose of the conference is to discuss Asian American representation in media. Her ultimate goal for the club is to provide a supportive group for Asians where they can learn about others’ cultures and be able to embrace their own.

“I love being part of this community that’s truly making a difference,” Rebecca said. “I want people to know that it doesn’t matter where you come from. As long as you’re interested in Asia and celebrating the diversity of Los Altos High School, you can come join.”