Color Stain

2021 Conference

This year, Break the Silence will take place as a week-long mental health conference in virtual format, free to all UChicago students and community members who want to learn more about how aspects of Asian culture, identity, and social forces and expectations affect the way we perceive our own mental health, and that of our peers. This conference seeks to share the work of academic and community members, facilitate important conversations and discussions, and promote ways to leverage the resources available to us for our mental and emotional well-beings.

Below are full descriptions and Zoom links for each event.

RSVP on our Facebook page.


All times are in CT (UTC-6)
(Click on each event for details)


6:30 - 8:00 PM

Ada Cheng's Storytelling Performance


6:30 - 8:00 PM

Ada Cheng Storytelling Workshop


6:30 - 7:30 PM

"Eating Disorders in Asian America" + Q&A
with Lauren Kim



Ada Cheng

Storytelling Workshop

Tuesday, April 13  //  6:30 PM-8:00 PM

One-click Zoom link

Meeting ID: 935 1761 5240

Passcode: 838346

Storytelling Performance

Monday, April 12  //  6:30 - 8:00 PM

One-click Zoom link

Meeting ID: 929 374 0507

Passcode: bts2021

Dr. Ada Cheng is a professor-turned-storyteller, solo performer, and storytelling show producer. She performed her solo show NOT QUITE: Asian American by Law, Asian Woman by Desire as the keynote for Women and Girls in Georgia Conference in 2019. She has been featured in storytelling shows and done her two solo performances all over the country. She is the producer and the host of four storytelling shows, including Pour One Out, Am I Man Enough?, Talk Stories: An Asian American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show, and Speaking Truths Series. In 2020, The Collaboraction Theatre Company produced her first short film A Letter to My Younger Self. She creates platforms for people to tell difficult and vulnerable stories as well as spaces for people and communities who may not have opportunities otherwise. Because of her work in storytelling, she was featured in 2019 New City's "Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago." She currently works as the Education and Outreach Specialist with Women’s Leadership and Resource Center at UIC, providing training on issues related to gender-based violence. Her interests span multiple fields, including academia, storytelling/performance art, and advocacy. Her motto: Make your life the best story you tell. Check out her website:

Lauren Kim 

"Eating Disorders in Asian America"

Wednesday, April 14  //  6:30  - 7:30 PM

Lauren will be walking through her zine, "Eating Disorders in Asian America" and her own personal story of recovery. She will host a Q&A session as well.

One-click Zoom link

Meeting ID: 962 9433 7399
Passcode: 896163

Lauren Kim is a Program Manager at a residential eating disorder treatment center in Massachusetts. She is interested in promoting intercultural awareness and eliminating persistent disparities in mental health treatment. She graduated from Tufts University in 2019 with a Bachelors in History and Asian American Studies and will be pursuing a Masters in Social Work in the fall. As a licensed therapist, she is interested in treating eating disorders, body image, self-confidence, and perfectionism in the Asian American community.


Kiran Rai


Healing Through Storytelling
Thursday, April 15  //  6:30 - 7:30 PM

Creative director and actor Kiran Rai joins Break the Silence for a Q&A session after the screening.

One-click Zoom link

Meeting ID: 917 3661 4361
Passcode: 367045

Kiran Rai, also known by her creator name KayRay, is an actor and creative director based out of Toronto. Throughout the past decade, Kiran has used her platform to primarily focus on addressing taboos within the South Asian community through the short films, documentaries and digital series. From bridging the gap between children of immigrants and their parents to bringing light on dating violence to combating the stigma of mental health and sexual harassment - she has been able to create meaningful dialogue through her work. Regardless of the approach, she constantly challenges people on their perception of women of colour in the industry. Through her satirical yet didactic content, Kiran's work continuously inspires critical conversation. She is now the co-founder of The Kollective, a BIPOC focused creative agency that aims to create opportunities for artists while supporting smaller businesses with branding strategies. Her work has been featured in the likes of The Toronto Star, NBC News, CBC, BBC and Cosmo India with her talk show Cha Da Cup With KayRay now airing on Brit Asia TV.

"Haneri" is a short film that explores mental health within a Punjabi-Canadian family. As we know, there is still a great deal of stigma associated with mental health and speaking about it out loud is never easy. In this story, Ruby’s family attempts to navigate and make sense of their daughter's struggle with depression, despite their limited understanding of this illness.

Esmé Wang


An Evening with Esmé Wang (POSTPONED TO 4/23)

Friday, April 23  //  6:30- 7:30 PM

One-click Zoom link

Meeting ID: 975 3059 9900
Passcode: 831812

Esmé Wang’s New York Times-bestselling essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias, won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize and the Whiting Award for Nonfiction. Of the collection, NPR writes, “The Collected Schizophrenias is riveting, honest…we are lucky to have it in the world.” Her debut novel, The Border of Paradise, was named a Best Book of 2016 by NPR and one of the 25 Best Novels of 2016 by Electric Literature. In 2015, Esmé was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease, and she also lives with schizoaffective disorder. While these conditions create boundaries, they also inspire her to guide and support others who are dealing with difficult times. Esmé’s blog, “The Unexpected Shape,” provides encouragement, advice, and resources for people living with limitations. And she’s designed an online course, Rawness of Remembering, to teach the skills needed for withstanding challenging circumstances via restorative journaling. In school, Esmé was known as the class clown. The highlight of her comedic career was when she made it to callbacks for Yale’s oldest sketch comedy troupe.


Helen Hsu & Amee Velasco

Asian American Resilience & Identity
Friday, April 16  //  6:00 - 7:00 PM

Dr. Hsu and Dr. Velasco will address how Asian Americans have utilized reclamation of identity and history as part of fostering resilience and a decolonized experience of mental wellness. Individualistic models of mental health regularly taught in professional settings have failed to acknowledge systemic stressors and resiliencies within Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) communities. Internalized racism and colonial mentality as well as frequent experiences of microaggressions and harassment are correlated with negative mental health consequences. This presentation will provide examples of Asian American centered approaches to decolonizing APIDA mental wellness.

One-click Zoom link

Meeting ID: 935 5477 5643
Passcode: 243528

Dr. Helen Hsu is Lead Outreach Specialist, Staff Psychologist, Asian American specialist, and lecturer at Stanford University. She is past president of the Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA), and Chair of the Training Advisory Committee at the American Psychological Association (APA) Minority Fellowship Program. Helen also served on the APA Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression, and was a Union City Human Relations Commissioner for 10 years. As a bi-cultural, bi-lingual clinician, Helen has worked within the Alameda County Behavioral Healthcare system as a clinical supervisor within Asian Community Mental Health Services and the City of Fremont Youth and Family Services. Her work has focused primarily on intersectional diverse communities, culturally responsive treatment, parenting education, school-based clinical services, grief and loss, and mentorship and leadership training of psychology students. Helen is on the advisory board for the JED foundation which focuses on teen and young adult suicide prevention and promoting mental health. She has worked extensively in private practice and as a consultant for Netflix and various universities and clinical training sites. She author of several book chapters on clinical topics and is committed to community advocacy and leadership mentoring focusing on marginalized communities.

Dr. Amee Velasco is a licensed clinical psychologist (PsyD) in Monrovia, California. After working extensively in mental health clinics serving marginalized communities, Dr. Velasco co-founded a community practice called Healing Rhythms Mental Health. Through her psychotherapy practice and her position as Diversity Chair on the Board of Directors for the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association, Dr. Velasco combines her passion for mindfulness, creativity, decolonizing work, and uplifting community.

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