When 17-year-old Arden Yum grew too frustrated with the lack of Asian representation in media, she took matters into her own hands by starting the Peahce Project.
As of Aug. 19, 2020, the Peahce Project, a multimedia platform for Asian content creators, has over 23,000 Instagram followers. Yum’s website, thepeahceproject.com, features writings and artworks by Asian creatives in addition to interviews with Asian journalists, comedians and activists. The Peahce Project’s Instagram account contains infographics highlighting the Asian American experience, cultural appropriation and other issues facing the broader Asian community.
When Yum, who is Korean American, was 15, she attended Hong Kong International School for one year. The experience left an indelible mark on her because she had never been in a largely Asian environment for an extended period of time.
“I thought of the idea in December of 2018 when I was living in Hong Kong surrounded by a mostly Asian class, and I just had the idea to interview a lot of my friends about their experiences and take pictures of them. I started reaching out to not only my friends but also people from social media. I found a lot of artists and activists that I would interview about growing up Asian, their cultures, experiences with racism, stuff like that,” Yum told me as we met early one morning via Zoom. She is a morning person, frequently waking up before seven and preferring to go to bed early.
Humble and unassuming, qualities that are uncommon in teenage social media personalities, Yum was nervous throughout the interview, even though she has given several interviews before. In spite of her thousands of Instagram followers, she comes across as shy and reserved. At school, she loves studying Latin and, while being far from the most outspoken person in class, has a phenomenal gift for translating and analyzing. Despite her cerebral nature, Yum also has an effortless sense of humor and is a star runner on the track team. To anyone who knows Yum, her dedication to the Peahce Project comes as no surprise.
Yum’s work has inspired Asian creatives.
“I applaud [Arden] and the Peahce Project,” said Justin Lu, a 17-year-old Chinese American student and stand-up comedian. Her work has inspired him to continue his comedic journey.
Yum’s desire for social justice mirrors that of the political involvement of Generation Z, those born between 1996 and 2011. Generation Z is more motivated than other generations to use social media to affect meaningful change.
“I think that young people are incredible agents of change and forces for good. There are a number of examples of young people and their activism being incredibly instrumental in creating lasting change and progressive change and bold change,” said 18-year-old Mina Zanganeh, a climate change and gun control activist.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peahce Project consisted almost exclusively of interviews with different Asian artists and writers. During lockdown, the Peahce Project expanded to include a team of 62 artists, editors, graphic designers, curators, writers, outreach coordinators and ambassadors. Yum herself is an avid photographer with impeccable taste.
“During quarantine I expanded a team. Now we’re able to publish a lot more, so we’ve moved past interviews to also art and writing and podcasts and some events,” Yum said. In a recent episode, Yum discusses being Asian at a mostly white school. She has a knack for incorporating humor into serious discussions, making her podcasts entertaining.
The future of the Peahce Project is uncertain but exciting.
“I just ordered stickers, and we’re hoping to sell them and donate the proceeds to an Asian organization. I want to reach as large an audience as possible. I want to hit 100K on Instagram, which is a huge goal; I don’t know if that can happen, but I would love for that to happen,” said Yum. Self-effacing but resolute, Yum will surely accomplish great things.