Generations share memories, discuss future journeys at inaugural Asian Alumni Reunion

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Ambassador Gary Locke ’72, Yale President Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D., and Julie Wong ’86 at the Yale Asian Alumni Reunion. (Photo by Hugo Perez ’93)

Hailing from as near as New Haven and as far as Beijing and beyond, more than 300 Yale alumni and students united over the weekend at the inaugural Yale Asian Alumni Reunion, April 11-13, organized by the Association of Asian American Yale Alumni with the Association of Yale Alumni and the Asian American Cultural Center (AACC).

This year marks the 160th anniversary of the 1854 commencement when Yung Wing became Yale’s first Asian alumnus. Some 15,000 living alumni have followed him and now represent the diverse cultures of the Asian and Asian-American community.

The weekend’s events — organized by a volunteer committee co-chaired by Harry Chang ’84 and Julie Wong ’86 — included keynote conversations with Indra K. Nooyi ’80 M.P.P.M., chair and CEO of PepsiCo; Tony-award winning playwright David Henry Hwang ’83 DRA; Gary Locke ’72, former U.S. ambassador to China, secretary of commerce, and governor of Washington; and pianist/composer Vijay Iyer ’92, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow. Watch YaleNews for videos of these conversations and other reunion highlights in the coming weeks.

Reunion attendees ranged in age from 18 to 85, with seven decades of current students, alumni, and friends representing the range of disciplines and degrees at Yale’s college and the graduate and professional schools. The reunion program also featured a student cultural showcase, faculty lectures, open houses at the AACC and other venues, and opportunities to network, greet old friends, and make new ones over meals and breaks. Panel discussions covered topics from civil rights to community service, career development, and Asians in arts, technology, media, and more.

Many of those present shared the program through social media with others who could attend in person. Nearly 100 alumni, friends, and groups Tweeted using the hashtag #YAAR14, with their almost 700 Tweets reaching a potential audience of hundreds of thousands more beyond campus. To see a digest of Tweets and photos from the reunion, read this Storify account here.

Current Yale College junior Shirley Guo shared her review of the reunion on Twitter with sentiments expressed by many in attendance: “Had a great time at #YAAR14 this weekend. The @aayalealumni organized a spectacular first Asian American Reunion at Yale. #grateful.”