Project Pengyou Leadership Fellow, Winona Guo, Co-Authors a Textbook on Racial Literacy

by Project Pengyou on April 20th, 2017   774 views

Project Pengyou Leadership Fellow and Founder of the Project Pengyou Chapter at Princeton High School, Winona Guo, is tackling the issue of racial literacy and understanding in America.


High schoolers Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi realized they weren’t accustomed to talking about race during the Eric Garner case, unrest in Ferguson, MO and other recent events which gained national attention and stirred dialogue on racial tensions in America.

Instead of giving up and feeling powerless, they decided to do something about it.

Together, they approached different people in the community and tried to educate themselves through gathering stories from real people from all walks of life in Princeton, NJ. Although not everyone welcomed the two girls with open arms, they soon realized the power in the stories they were gathering, and started sharing them on their website. Winona told us:

“When talking with our teachers and mentors, we realized that the stories by themselves were powerful, but we needed to create tools that could be used in classrooms to facilitate these discussions and promote healing and empowerment.” 

Thus the HONY-style campaign they started has evolved into something with much greater impact: education. They teamed up with Princeton University’s African American Studies department, who helped advise them, and also funded the first 500 copies of their final product, the CHOOSE textbook on racial literacy. With a team across the US helping collect stories and drive the movement to end silence on discussions of race in America, Priya and Winona are well on their way to making a real impact.

A recent publication in Teen Vogue shares an in-depth interview with both founders, who explain that they have also found empowerment and inspiration in this effort despite a challenging start. Winona told us that as a Chinese American, she is part of the silent model minority. “We are both young, female, Asian-American activists and sometimes it feels like we don’t have a voice or a seat at the table, even in the activist and social justice community.” However, these brave young women are still working hard to change lives despite this, and plan on taking a gap year from college to continue the work they started.

In order to do this, they need support. We are proud of the work they have accomplished so far and after taking a sneak peek at the CHOOSE textbook quickly ordered several copies for ourselves. As Pengyous, we care deeply about equality and racial literacy is closely tied to our mission of fighting xenophobia. We encourage everyone to consider supporting this initiative and learn more about the great work Winona and Priya have done:

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