The Voices of ASU on Diaspora

Header image by Biplove Baral

The following poems were submitted by members of the ASU community as part of the State Press’ newest poetry project, where each set of submissions is based on a specific theme.

In an effort to bring light to the variety of cultural experiences at the University, we asked ASU students and employees to describe what being part of a diaspora means to them.

For a multitude of reasons, people have traveled far from their homes. Diaspora — a term used when referring to populations that have moved from their places of origin — has led to greater diversity in the cultural experiences we share. But as our traditions continue to evolve, our sense of belonging and the idea of ​​”home” become more complex.

Whether those who have experienced being part of a diaspora have returned to their homeland, there can be a feeling of disconnect to family history, evoking inner turmoil. This has manifested into language barriers, changes in familial expectations and confusion surrounding loyalty and nationality.

To further complicate these nuances, there are many forms of diaspora. Some individuals are one or more generations removed. Some are from more than one cultural background. Each individual experience is influenced by upbringing — and no two are alike.

In the end, diaspora can mean a lot of different things. Yet, it continues to beg the question: To whom, what and where am I connected to? In search of an answer, many children of diaspora desire to reconnect with their past.

Our next theme will be announced over social media in the next couple of months. We look forward to reading your work for the next edition of our poetry project.

Click to open and scroll to view the poetry.

This month’s poets

Caroline Quintero is a senior at ASU majoring in English (creative writing) and justice studies. She is the president of Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority Inc. and poetry editor for Lux Undergraduate Creative Review.

monalisa hernandez is a first-generation college student studying nursing in her sophomore year. Although much of her classes are heavily based on science, her passions are in performance, liberal arts and social justice. She aims to dedicate the rest of her life in the service of others.

Sami Al-Asady — a child of Bosnian and Iraqi war refugees — is studying political science and civic and economic thought and leadership. He sits on the Secular AZ Board of Directors and is a published op-ed writer.

Sonya Sheptunov is a queer, Ukrainian American student at ASU studying journalism and mass communication. Sonya is a proud child of immigrants who has lived in many places, currently residing in Phoenix for university.

Sonakshi Sharma is a junior studying biology and astrobiology. She’s fascinated by the life/not-life boundary and life forms in general. When she’s not running code, she’s taking pictures of especially green patches of grass on campus and uploading them to @sunburban on Instagram.

mary joseph is the assistant director of Forensics, the ASU speech and debate team. They are also an instructional professional for the Hugh Downs School of Communication. They moved to Tempe from NYC this past August and have loved it ever since.

mary violet is a queer, interdisciplinary artist who tries to connect poetry with more visual mediums such as collage, screen printing and fashion. When they’re not writing, they are focusing on their clothing brand, Warped Cherub, or trying to pet strangers’ dogs.

Autumn Byars is an artist and poet in the third year of her BFA studies. She comes from a family full of German immigrants and grew up practicing customs from the old world. She unanimously enjoys sauerkraut and steamed cabbage.

Ema Angulo-Rodriguez is a psychology (BA) and Spanish linguistics (BA) double major. Due to the sociopolitical instability of her native country, she suddenly became an immigrant at 15. Ella Now a junior in college, she tries to navigate life in the foreign United States and reflects on what it means to belong anywhere through her poetry.

Illustrations by Biplove Baral

Designed by Zach Van Arsdale

Edited by Rachel Lee, Sophia Balasubramanian and Sam Ellefson

Have questions about any of the poems you read or want to submit your own? Send an email to

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