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APIAutumn workshop highlights Asian-American history

Senior David Choi helped students explore their Asian and Pacific Islander American identities at the APIAutumn kickoff event Thursday in Gardner Hall.

The workshop, titled “No History, No Self; Know History, Know Self,” is the first of 17 events that are scheduled to take place every week until Nov. 18. It's part of APIAutumn, a month-long series of events hosted by several cultural and general interest organizations, including Carolina Union Activities Board, Black Student Movement and Asian Student Association. Choi’s goal for the workshop was to increase awareness of Asian-American history and help Asian-American students gain a better understanding of their identities.

“I think it’s so important that people understand where they come from and where people like them have come from and how people like them have been treated in the past," Choi said. "It really does affect the way that we live today and the way that they will live in the future."

ASA’s Cultural Main Events Chair Jade Wu believes history is incredibly relevant to the present.

“It’s important to know the history, know where you yourself as an individual fit in that history and then also how all of that fits into the present day,” Wu said.

Behind Choi’s passion for teaching students about Asian-American issues is a deep dissatisfaction with the Asian-American representation on campus. He shared his frustrations with the lack of Asian-American course offerings at UNC.

“The fact that we have to teach this workshop as students – so this event was completely student-organized, student-developed, student-executed – we had, for this event, no support from the administration at all,” Choi said. “We always like to compare ourselves to schools like Berkeley or UCLA or the Ivy Leagues – or Duke, even – and yet we are only offering maybe one class with Asian-American studies focus, despite the fact that Asians and Asian-Americans make up 14 percent or more of every incoming class.”

As the “No History, No Self; Know History, Know Self” workshop is only the first event of several to come, students will have many more opportunities to continue exploring APIA issues and topics. Choi believes APIAutumn is a great chance to showcase the work of Asian-American students at UNC.

“I’m super super excited that APIAutumn is happening. It really shows the amount of hard work that Asian-American students are investing into their community and to their education. There’s so many amazing things that I would’ve never dreamed of happening when I was a first year that are being put together this year,” Choi said.

Sophomore Stephanie Dong, the design chair for the Asian Students Association, feels that workshops like this are critical for Asian-American representation.

“This is a part of the American experience, and we’re Americans at the end of the day," Dong said. "Our stories should be heard as equally as every other single minority and majority within the United States.”


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