Founded in 2011 by Aya Murata, then advisor to Asian/Asian American students, the Asian American Footsteps Conference proved early on to be an important and much needed space in the independent secondary school world. In that first year, keynote SuChin Park, former news correspondent for MTV, reminded students that their voices needed to be heard and represented in whatever spheres they occupied. Murata noted that year that, “AAFC 2011 was an important and historic event–the first gathering of its kind. WHY is a conference like this so important? Well, up until now, there had not been much of an opportunity to discuss Asian and Asian American topics within our institutions and AAFC 2011 provided us with the opportunity to share knowledge about specific issues, engage in an open dialogue with peers who understand our perspectives, and become empowered to build more inclusive communities within our schools.”
That first year, over 175 students participated from 15 peer schools and it has only grown in number and scope since then. The conference continues to be a powerful gathering for Asian, Asian American and mixed heritage Asian students. It has since been hosted by six other schools but returned to Andover in 2017, with over 200 students in attendance. Tina Chang, award winning poet and author of Of Gods and Strangers, and the first woman to be named as poet laureate of Brooklyn, kicked-off the conference, sharing her experiences as a writer and poet, working in a field dominated by white and male voices.
Students, faculty and visiting guests facilitated a range of workshops that spoke to the multiplicity of Asian/Asian American identity including: