Founders of an Asian-American digital magazine hope to impact future generations

A group of high school students document the experiences of Asian Americans in history and today through a digital magazine called “What We Experience”.

Jeenah Gwak, 17, of Bellevue and Hope Yu, 18, of Seattle are the co-founders and co-editors of the quarterly publication. The couple launched the magazine as a project in 2020, following mounting attacks on the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

“Anti-Asian sentiments are still there. We still have racist events all over the country, and we want to keep raising awareness,” Gwak said.

“Each individual is a person and has a life story and has equal value,” Yu said. “I think that’s what I hold the most.”

Today, the “What We Experience” team has a dozen volunteers who are all in high school.

So far, seven issues have been published, exploring the experiences of Asian Americans – from artists to Olympic athletes, Asian American men and women, Asian Americans in the LGBTQ community, and immigrants.

“I think [I was the most proud of] the number i did about my grandfather it was an article about his immigration story and how he got to where he is now it meant a lot to me just to be able to hear directly from his lyrics and its direct story, instead of what my parents mentioned,” Yu said.

Gwak and Yu are both heading to college this fall, but said they will continue to promote “What We Experience” as a platform for the next generation of Asian Americans.

“We don’t learn any of that in school. Everyone has their own culture and as important as your culture is to you, it’s also important to them,” Gwak said. “We want to provide a resource that anyone can access and read about the history of Asian culture, and just about Asian experiences in general. We don’t find that in history textbooks.”

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The next issue of “What We Experience” is slated for release on June 26 and will focus on food.

“I think it will be the most impactful for everyone, because food is something we all share,” Gwak said. “Asian cuisine is found all over America.”

Amanda P. Whitten