For the past two years, As I Am was blessed to have Katherine Kwong as an editor. She brought liveliness, a creative spark, warmth, and an empathetic editorial eye to our collective writing endeavor. If you’ve interacted with her before–as a writer, colleague, and/or friend–you’d know just how singularly curious and motivated she is to put authentic stories into the universe. Although we’re sad to be losing her voice at As I Am, we are thrilled that she will have more time to pursue her podcasting passions. We thank Katherine for all her efforts to create As I Am. Our community is so much stronger because of it.
A note from Katherine:
I was added to the PAAC Facebook group in 2017. Someone from my college had, seemingly on a whim, messaged me and asked me if I considered myself “progressive.” At the time, I knew it was a nuanced word. I don’t recall my answer, but it was some version of “I-am-open-to-the-idea-of-the-other-side-of-certain-hot-button-issues-sure-yeah-why-not.”
At the time, I had just graduated with an English B.A. and was stumbling towards work in a medium that seemed to be emerging as a good space for dynamic and underrepresented voices. I say it with that phrasing because I hope and see how podcasting is providing space for those types of voices. At the time, I just thought it seemed cool, unconventional, and the exact opposite of graduate school.
Additionally, I had no idea how I wanted to understand myself as a third-generation Chinese American post college at a PWI. Studying English with no resistance at all from my parents and being mostly fine about the lack of representation in my liberal arts english education . . . I realized I hadn’t given the concept of my Chinese-ness any serious thought. I wasn’t against it, but sometimes it takes a particular group of people and particular medium to shift perspective.
Once I had joined PAAC, I found the writer’s group. And there I found Asians who loved to write.
Then I found myself in a community of writers exploring everything from free verse to flash fiction, memoir and personal empathy. My experience of the PAAC community busted open with the formation of As I Am and two awesome years of content as we helped you tell of things you loved, what broke your heart, the epiphanies you’ve had, and the journeys you’re still on.
You did what writing does for many communities: created histories and stories that tell ourselves about ourselves and so better have an idea of how to tell it forward.
Thank you so much for allowing me to help you with the stories. They’re amazing. Keep writing them! This has been a really wonderful space where my empathy is enlarged. Where the answer is not always neat or cheerful, it’s complex, angry, painful, healing. It can be as simple as “shut up and just listen” or as powerful as finding new ways to pray and worship. I have a better idea of how much power and tenderness our voices, my voice, has when it comes to shaping culture and understanding others.
And as you step forward into what writing and stories this year will bring us, the next story calls me. My desire is still to be a part of the radio/podcast community. I don’t know the full vision of that yet, but I am currently a fellow in the Stonybrook Audio Podcast program and currently working on a show discussing formative books we read as kids.
I am stepping down as As I Am co-editor and as a part of the Diverging Magazine editorial staff. I’ll still be around on facebook (though with current news I am both repelled and compelled by the idea of being on social media right now).
To all my Diverging Staff co-editors — thank you for your work and service to this community! You all wear a bajillion hats, thanks for tending this space for us! To the best co-editor, Chris Paek, your undaunted faith in the power of the written word, and even-enthusiasm were great to work with. Can’t wait to see where Top 5 goes! And to the writers, we wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you for your words.
I cannot wait to read what else will be written.