On Being Asian

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By Alin Ferrer-Garganera

Asia is complex and complicated.  Among the seven continents, she is quite extreme.  Largest continent, largest population, fastest economic growth. But also, the biggest source of pollution and the most vulnerable to climate impacts.  Without a doubt, she has one of the most colorful histories.

Uniquely Asian is a truth.  Sumptuous food and cultural center. The deepest sea and the highest mountain.  Most religions evolved from Asian tradition and the eastern philosophies remain a rich source of moral compass for most people.

The intricate culture, social norms and politics create tensions among Asian nations. Historical differences are also partly at fault.  The same richness creates difficulties, as languages are a barrier.

That’s where connection and communications become very important.  The cultural and language differences are bridged when there is regular interaction and exchange of ideas. At this digital age, that is almost a given.  But the role of the printed word remains crucial in bridging that cultural, and language, gap.

For us journalists, this connection is important.  This is the opportunity afforded by Asian Journalist Association or AJA.  Starting from the Northeast Asia region, the collective now covers the whole of Asia and even extending to the Middle East.  Members are united with the belief in free speech and in developing the role of journalism to create more meaningful connections among cultures and nations.

This is embodied in the motto “One Line of Truth through Sweat and Blood”.  The main publication of AJA is MagazineN.  A periodical by Asians, for Asians.  The mission is to promote better understanding of what it means to be Asian, from the perspectives of Asians.

Recognizing the power of the internet and the need to reach out to digital natives, an online version is available – AsiaN.  The goal is simple.  The more we tell stories, or write about each other, the more ideas are exchanged.  This way, we are creating more connections, and more reasons to listen to each other.

Writers want to inspire readers to change for the better.  It matters little if the change is on a personal level, or for the community or for the whole country.  AJA hopes to nurture this journalistic tradition by living up to the vocation of “inspiring Asia, empowering people and leading change!”

That’s what being truly Asian means.

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