Talented and successful Asian Dutch are plentiful in every field but recognition is few and far between. Whether they are artists, scientists, entrepreneurs or politicians, all of them deserve praise. Asian Praisings is our regular item covering these compelling individuals. We are putting them in the spotlight. This time, we have interviewed Hui-Hui Pan. She is Chinese Dutch and founder of Pan Asian Collective and network PAC.
Please introduce yourself
Hello, my name is Hui-Hui Pan, a mother of three young children. I was born in Deventer with Chinese roots. I am also a cultural organizer, connector, and strategist. Through Pan Asian Collective, I organize events and create a platform for creatives with Asian roots. All to promote visibility and representation in the media and culture sector.
Furthermore, I am the initiator of Network PAC, which stands for Pan Asian Connections. Through PAC we are ensuring that Asian Dutch people become more visible and better represented in mainstream media.
What do you want to achieve with Pan Asian Connections?
The goal of PAC is telling stories from an Asian Dutch perspective in order to create more visibility and the correct representation in the media landscape. But also by sharing stories and creating more connection between Dutch people. With more knowledge and understanding about Dutch people with Asian roots and about Asia we want to achieve this goal.
In addition, we believe it is important to offer a stage and platform for Asian Dutch talent. By doing this, we hope to offer more opportunities and more role models in front of and behind the scenes. For instance, by offering a platform for good short films created by Asian Dutch talent.
Why did you start Pan Asian Connections?
We started Network PAC because the moment is NOW. With more than 1 million Asian Dutch people, we are not visible in the media landscape. And when we are represented, it is often as ‘the other’.
The media landscape is ideally a mirror of our society. Unfortunately, at the moment this is not the case. Misrepresentation through stereotyping also creates the wrong images. This leads to prejudice, stigmatisation and polarisation. In addition, research has shown that it is important for people (including children) to see characters and characters they identify with. Thus, it is apparent that there is a clear relationship between low self-esteem and negative (or missing) media images.
Do you think representation is important?
ABSOLUTELY! Seeing yourself is being seen. And that is so important when you grow up. In my surroundings I see so many people being concerned with ‘who they are’ as a person and what their identity is. Representation, seeing yourself, recognising yourself is important for your self-esteem. It increases your chances as well.
Have you had role models?
I would say my grandfather, because he travelled the world fearlessly as an illiterate person and ‘made’ himself. Additionally, I’ve always found it very inspiring that for him, communication was not about language. It was about how you convey something non-verbally, by who you are and how you behave. Anything was possible. Furthermore, growing up – the list of role models is limited to my grandfather. In the media there were neither people I looked like nor compared to.
In what kind of family did you grow up?
My family might have been a ‘typical’ restaurant family, since my parents first had a restaurant in Deventer. After that in Gorssel where they worked hard every day. We, children, had to work as well. We lived upstairs of the restaurant with the staff. Truthfully, everything was about the business, or the various other restaurant families, or what someone looked like. My two sisters and brother are still active in the catering industry.
What is your cultural background, and are you close to it?
My cultural background is Chinese: my parents are from Wenzhou and were born there. In the 1930s my great-grandfather came to the Netherlands as one of the first Chinese people. Then my grandfather followed him in the 60s and my parents in the late 70s.
As Pete Wu phrases it, I am a ‘banana’ – very Dutch but sometimes with Asian features. For example when it comes to food or family, I am very Asian. Yet I don’t necessarily feel very Asian (apart from the fact that I know the culture and history very well) or very Dutch. I consider myself therefore more of a world citizen.
What do you do? For fun and day-to-day?
I love good films, series, books and love discovering new artists or interesting people. Furthermore, as a hobby, I currently ‘collect’ interesting people with Asian roots.
In my daily life I am the driving force behind Network PAC and founder of Pan Asian Collective. I also help different people in my environment to grow personally. Besides that, I am a member of the board of MDRA, and the initiator of many different initiatives. Moreover, I also connect people and organisations to each other. Lastly, I am a mother.
What are your life goals?
My personal goals? They are to create a more beautiful, inclusive and harmonious society for my children and their friends. In addition, to make a lot of beautiful, fun and interesting programs and products. And write a children’s book someday. Oh yes – when we are allowed again, I enjoy travelling and discovering the wider world.
Anything else you would like to add?
Become a member of the network Pan Asian Connections, or Network PAC, for a tenner and help make the world a little more beautiful and inclusive. Through a network, we can achieve mainstream impact.
How can we follow you?
@omroeppac – The broadcaster for the link between Asia and the Netherlands (and become a member!).
@panasiancollective – Collective for creatives with Asian roots to connect, inspire and empower them.
@huihui_panonfire – Personal blog of Hui-Hui Pan primarily about food.
You also might like this interview with make-up artist and hair stylist Xiu Yun Yu.