More Than Serving Tea: Book Signing

by Katelyn Noll '07

On Tuesday, February 13, APU hosted a book signing reception to celebrate the recent release of More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith. The event, held in the VIP Room of the Felix Event Center, attracted more than 30 women.

More than Serving Tea was written by Kathy Khang, Christie Heller de Leon, and Asifa Dean, and edited by Nikki A. Toyama and Tracey Gee, and offers honest representations of their own experiences as Asian, American, Christian women. Toyama and Dean were both at the event, to present their book and to discuss with attendees the issues addressed in it. Andrea McAleenan, Ph.D., special advisor to President Jon Wallace, DBA, opened the afternoon by welcoming the writers, "a group of very gifted women," and the guests, saying that she hoped it would be "a day of rich dialogue."

The concept for the book came from Toyama, who through her experiences with counseling women, found a frightening trend: many Asian American women saw their gender and ethnicity as a liability, rather than a benefit. "God had given each of these woman a gift," she said, but they didn't realize it. Inspired to address this problem, Toyama planned for a book, written by Asian American women, about their struggles with their identities. Toyama wanted her readers to come to see their nationalities and gender as gifts from God.

During her introduction to the book, she told attendees about Bible stories of women who, despite their seeming limitations, were able to be used by God for great things. She specifically mentioned the story of Esther, a woman who, despite being female and foreign, used her position to save her nation from impending genocide. "We found our own stories written in Scriptures," she said, "but they weren't always taught to us through an Asian lens." In response to this, the writers and editors wanted each of their readers to recognize the strengths, rather than potential weaknesses, that come from being Asian American.

Toyama wrote the introduction to the book, "Asian American Christian Women: Triple Blessing or Triple Curse?" She also wrote two additional chapters, "Perfectionistic Tendencies" and "Getting Used to the Sound of My Voice."

Writer Asifa Dean also presented part of the book. She wrote about her life as a Pakistani-American woman, focusing much of her portion on arranged marriage, a custom which, although not practiced as commonly now as traditionally, has left lasting impressions on many Pakistanis' view of marriage. One of the chapters written by Dean is called "Single Asian Female Seeking;" the other is "Friends or Enemies?"

Speaking about arranged marriages, she said, "growing up, it was something I dealt with, but never brought to God." In More Than Serving Tea, she writes about arranged marriages—the general situation, and that which is personal to herself and her family. It's about "how God is meeting me in this dynamic of being bicultural," she said. "It has been a gift to work on this book."