Middle School News

Student Songwriter Responds to Rise in Anti-Asian Racism
Mitzi Mock

Check out eighth grader Joshua K.'s song, "All the Same," with a special introduction from his brother, fifth grader Daniel K.


When eighth grader Joshua K. began brainstorming ideas for his Recital Project in the fall, he knew he wanted to grow as a songwriter and music producer.

“In class, I’m known for being a quiet person,” Joshua said. “Music is my way to share what’s in my head with other people.”

Over the course of the year, he spent days poring through online tutorials on music recording. A devoted fan of Korean rap, he reached out to professionals in the music business for feedback, including a producer for one his favorite K-Pop bands, ATEEZ. Like many great artists, he gave himself a stage name: DreamR. He couldn’t wait to unveil his project—a song about his life at Nueva—on Recital Night to his grandfather, who was planning to travel all the way from Korea for the big event.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and Joshua’s inspiration shifted along with it.

“I began hearing about the rise in hate crimes against Asians,” recalled Joshua, who was especially disturbed after learning about an incident experienced by a family friend. “I was so disappointed. I wanted to tell people, ‘You shouldn’t be scared of us. We’re all the same.’”

That idea inspired him to revamp his Recital Project, now a song whose title and chorus remind us that we’re “All the Same.” Moreover, he wanted to use this project to help others. He started a GoFundMe campaign to raise awareness about the rise in anti-Asian racism and raised money to support local shelters, and fire and police stations.

Like Joshua, the Nueva community has also been exploring ways to discuss the rise in anti-Asian discrimination and the history that helps us to understand why and how that is happening. Earlier in the month, PreK–12 Equity and Social Justice Director Alegria Barclay hosted a community discussion to dive into the lessons that emerge within this month’s PBS docuseries Asian Americans. More recently, Upper School students hosted a roundtable with faculty and parent speakers to explore the Asian American experience in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The roundtable provided our community and, in particular, our students with a much broader context to better understand the long history of anti-Asian discrimination, as well as to celebrate who we are and what we’ve contributed to this vibrant, diverse, and complex nation,” said Alegria, who also reflected on these themes in a recent Voices piece.

Joshua is hopeful that by growing people’s awareness of these issues, our communities will have greater understanding and empathy for the Asian American experience. He’s grateful that the Recital Project allowed him the time to pursue a project that merged his advocacy interests with music.

“The Recital Project was very meaningful to me,” said Joshua, who has continued to produce music while sheltering at home—most recently a Mother’s Day song. “Life can get very busy, but this was a great excuse to make time for something that I’m passionate about, and I hope music is a side project that I have throughout my life.”


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