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Empowering Asian Americans through Entertainment at Kollaboration DC

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Imagine for a moment, you’re standing on stage with the spotlights shining down on you. People are screaming at you but you can’t hear their voices. In a daze you take the shining trophy presented in front of you and feel yourself being pushed towards the microphone. Holding it, you stumble over your thoughts, struggling to find words to explain the shock you’re still in.

This is exactly what Dave Yoon experienced after he was named the 2013 Kollaboration DC 4 Champion!

This international talent show within the Asian American community took place Saturday, September 28 at the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Dedicating his win to his late uncle, Yoon told aspiring musicians that “music is a dream and a dream is for you. It’s not for anybody else so pursue it, with all your heart, and you will achieve.”

And that’s the message that Kollaboration is pushing for. Founded in 2000 by PK Kim, Kollaboration means to empower through entertainment, to provide a platform for Asian Americans to tell their story.

“I’m hoping that through Kollaboration, these kids and these performers, they get this drive,” Christian Oh, co-founder of Kollaboration DC said. “This sense of accomplishment and pushing yourself and realizing that yes I can pursue music or dance or any other creative outlet out there.”

And this resonates with many of those involved. Performers and volunteers alike shared their stories of struggles, the struggle to break down the idea that pursuing music or dance is foolish. Even the famous all-girls group Blush was not immune to this Asian American stigma.

“They [My family] were not really happy about me wanting to be a singer,” Blush member, Ji Hae said. “I actually majored in law in university but I couldn’t give up my dream. So I told them that I want to at least try… and now I’m here.”

Indeed, Saturday showed that it is possible to break through this barrier. Nine talented singers stepped onto the stage that night and sang their hearts out. From Lynsey’s amazing rendition of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” to Juan’s cover of the famous opera song, “Time to Say Goodbye.” And of course, one can’t forget Dave’s emotional mashup mixing storytelling with singing.

“I didn’t come here to win. I just wanted to tell my story,” he said.

Special guest performers included the local B-Girl hard-hitting dance group KickRocks Crew and the 2013 Kollaboration DC Rising Star Award winner Cara Kim. The show also headlined two of the hottest Asian American acts, Seattle hip-hop rapper, Gowe and all-girl edgy, pop group, Blush.

And while it was a night of spectacular music, no one could deny the entertainment that this year’s emcee, Jenny Yang, brought to the stage. A Los Angeles native, Yang threw down some ridiculous material, talking about tapioca milk and Chinese tattoos.

The air around the event was lighthearted and carefree just like any other talent competition or showcase but according to the performers Kollaboration is not just a talent competition.

“You become a part of the family,” singer Lynsey Fadul said. “In any other competition that I’ve been in you don’t get that. You just kind of go in and compete. But these are my friends now” as she points to her two competitors with a smile across her face.

“Yeah,” Kollabortion’s Rising Star winner Cara Kim agreed. “Also competing in any other competition is to better yourself. To be big, to be famous, to do whatever you want. Here in Kollaboration, while we do want to better ourselves, we also want to empower Asian Americans.”

And empower through entertainment they did. Applause echoed through the auditorium as the performers took their last final stages on the George Washington Lisner stage. But as the lights dimmed and the auditorium emptied, it’s back to school and back to work for everyone.

“This is more of a on the side thing,” said Joanna, Kollaboration’s media liaison. “Everyone has another job or they’re still in school. So things will kind of die down until next year when we begin auditioning again.”

And for the winner, Dave Yoon, and the full-time Kollaboration staff … things are just about to become crazier. As the winner of DC’s Kollaboration, Yoon not only received a shiny trophy and $1,000, but now he’ll also get the chance to fly to Los Angeles to compete in Kollaboration Star, November 16. Stay tuned and be sure to support him and send Kollaboration your love.

Contact Information:

Official Website: http://kollaborationdc.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kollaborationdc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kollaborationdc
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/kollaborationdc




All photos by Shannon Wong





Jaclyn is so excited to be a campus correspondent with Her Campus! She is a sophomore at the University of Maryland, double majoring in Journalism and American Studies. Jaclyn hopes to work as an editor at a magazine in the future. She loves following fashion, attending concerts, traveling, and photographing the world around her.