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A fight for representation

By Krystal Tome

Born in England and now living in Chapel Hill with his South Korean parents, 17-year-old Daniel Park has found his current passions in Public Forum Debate, journalism, and efforts to diversify his community.

Park’s journey through Public Forum Debate at Durham Academy has “improved my rhetorical skills and simultaneously taught me how to be more outgoing and adventurous,” he said.  He added he has been able to “better advocate for social change” due to the persuasive tools he has been coached in and that have flourished during debate practice. Studying each significant issue given as a debate topic alongside his debate partner has opened Park’s eyes to the urgency in which these matters need to be remedied.

“Debate has helped me hone my journalistic and investigative skills while simultaneously challenging me to succeed in an academic environment,” Park said.

As he has struggled to feel that Asian-Americans are correctly represented in the media, Park has found a passion in journalism and believes through that he can help the representation of Asian-Americans not only in media, but also in life.

“Representation of Asian Americans is especially lacking, and if represented at all, we are often shown as caricatures of ourselves rather than our genuine identities,” he said.

This recently found passion to report on underrepresented people has been nurtured through his role as editor-in-chief of his school newspaper, “The Green and White.”

“Working with the ‘Green and White’ has given me the perfect opportunity to express that passion and experiment with new creative avenues,” Park said.

Having an outgoing personality has allowed Park to be unafraid of speaking up for change in his community.

For example, Park has taken action to diversify his community by emailing his school colleagues and advocating for a curriculum including books written by people of color and a campus with more students of color. Park said including books such as The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison or The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez in a school curriculum can help any community better understand racial prejudice.

Media have played a role in Park’s thinking about college and a career. “Planet Money” by NPR recently inspired Park to explore the idea of pursuing a college major in behavioral economics. “Planet Money” is a podcast that explains the economy through creative storytelling.

“This podcast interests me in understanding the psychology behind people’s actions and understanding how economic policies motivate people and how the actions of people can affect society as a whole,” Park said.