“…at the time I was looking for an Asian organization on my campus to join because I wanted to connect with more people that kind of grew up in the same way I did.”
Andrew “Houdini” Mun shares his outlook on chartering Pi Alpha Phi and its current importance to the Asian community amidst a global pandemic.
You helped charter Psi Chapter in 2014. Was that something that you were planning to do once you got to college?
No, not at all. I had no idea what a fraternity was until I got to college. I heard some stories about it, and so it seemed interesting. After learning more I thought it could be an opportunity for me to learn and grow as a person. As I learned more about it, it molded into something beyond what I imagined.
You mention growing yourself and finding opportunity. What do you mean by that?
When you're going into college your grades matter. But grades aren’t going to be the only thing to distinguish you from other people that have high GPAs. My school was always saying to get leadership experience and join clubs, and so I thought chartering a fraternity could be a good thing to do.
But honestly, at the time I was looking for an Asian organization on my campus to join because I wanted to connect with more people that kind of grew up in the same way I did. There was a lack of Asian American representation on this campus. There weren’t too many people I could connect with right out of a gate. There wasn’t an Asian community set. And those were the two biggest reasons I went out my way to charter.
As an alumnus and RG, what benefits have you seen for brothers that join?
I'm proud to see other younger members breaking down their identity and connecting with other people of like-mindedness. They’re exercising what it means to be a human being meaning being empathetic, one that understands the other side of the story and isn’t judgmental.
We're thriving because we do good work. Iowa is predominantly white, and so for us to thrive here is cool. The atmosphere we have has to be different than a lot of other places.
What’s the future of Pi Alpha Phi considering that we're in a pandemic in regards to community? Where does Pi Alpha Phi fit into the whole mold?
I see a huge purpose. I think those members are also finding themselves mixed into all the other Asian clubs. But regardless, PAPhi seems to find itself kind of at the center.
It's very different having dedicated members in one organization compared to clubs. We have a group of dedicated members that not only cares for the organization, but the community itself. They're going to try to find people that were like me when I was a freshman in college that wanted to find community or have a group of friends that grew up in the same way. It’s important that these organizations are still here trying to connect people in a deeper way than just someone you see in a Zoom call for a class, especially those culturally based organizations.
Last question – What are some favorite memories coming from the fraternity?
Some of my fondest memories are going on spring break trips with bros. We went on two really big Spring Break trips. Our first, we went to Florida visited some other beaches around there. We rented a house with 20-30 of us all in one house.
After that, my senior year we went to New Orleans. And because we had more members from Iowa State, I brought my kiddos as well. And that was really fun. We stayed in road tripped and stayed at a hotel.