Cassandra Dang Nguyen

Editor in Chief 

IMG_1141Cassandraʼs interest in philanthropy and social justice was sparked at an early age. When she was seven, she accompanied her parents and her sister on a month long trip to Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Though she was too young to fully appreciate the culture and spectacle of Saigon, one image remained with her. A little boy around her age, dressed in brown garments too thin to be considered clothing, walking on sandals long past their prime, hungry, tired and lonely looking, was timidly walking up to pedestrians selling raffle tickets. Though some of those he approached purchased a ticket, several waved him away as if he were a fly – a part of the landscape. It was not rare to see such poverty, and today it is far from obsolete.

A couple of years ago, Cassandraʼs mother and little brother revisited Vietnam, now considered a rapidly growing economic hotspot. When they returned, her mother 
showed her a picture. In front of a posing and smiling mother and son, a little boy, aged no more than 10 years, wearing thin garments and worn sandals was captured in the frame. His back was turned to the camera, face unseen, while Cassandraʼs brotherʼs face shone with joy. This ignited a flurry of questions: why did this child remind her so much of the child from many years ago? Was this faceless representation a coincidence,  a consequence of a single camera’s angle, or an example of the larger degrading representation that is imposed on cash poor people?

As Editor in Chief, Cassandra will work to ensure that these types of questions are interrogated. That those stories which mainstream considers to be ‘unimportant’, will be heard. Her work is part of a continual journey of learning. She will make mistakes on this journey, but she hopes to one day learn how to speak to social injustice with the right amount of criticalness and respect. By providing an outlet for expression, she hopes not to appropriate but to help amplify the voices of marginalized peoples.

Cassandraʼs background is in performance theatre. She is extremely passionate about story telling and the power of stories to give listeners the gift of perspective – the chance to be in someone elseʼs shoes – the opportunity to develop not only sympathy but empathy. Her work will be deeply personal and will strive to make you remember a face – a person. Cassandra has also served as the President for Pragmora Peace Action Team 2012 – 2013 (PPAT UofT), the Youth Coordinator for Gendering Adolescent AIDS Prevention (GAAP), and is a contributor for The Urban Times, Critical Conversations Series.

The Urban Times: http://urbantimes.co/author/cassandranguyen/ // GAAP: http://utgaap.info // Pragmora: http://pragmora.com/PPAT/Utoronto

Letter from the Editor in Chief 

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