The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday October 19th

UNC's Asia Week gives Asian-American students a place on campus

UNC's second annual Asia Week brought back some of last year’s favorite traditions while introducing a new variety of panels and workshops for students and community members to attend. 

Throughout the week, students attended a number of events, speeches, panels and workshops to celebrate, including: the Southeast Asian Language Workshop, the Global Asia Career Panel and the LGBTQ+ Asian-American Identity conversations event. Asia Week closed with an Asian Culture Festival, which was envisioned by the Asian-interest fraternity Pi Alpha Phi and further organized by the Carolina Asia Center and the Asian Students Association.

"Events and programming such as Asia Week and the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month are incredibly important to the UNC community in order to increase visibility of Asian and Asian-American students on campus," said senior David Choi, who attended some of the events.

One of the speakers for the week, Jason Oliver Chang, a professor of history and Asian-American studies at the University of Connecticut, shared his research in a talk titled, "Anti-Chinese Racism and the Making of the Mexican Mestizo." Chang said if the aim of colleges is to be centers of excellence and inclusion, then it's not just Asian-Americans who should encourage these studies, but it should be everyone who advocates for diversity from learning about the history of Asians and Asian-Americans. 

"Dr. Jason Oliver Chang's talk is significant because it provides access, albeit temporary access, to intellectual dialogue that is absent at UNC," Choi said. "UNC sorely lacks an Asian-American historian, a crucial part of an academic space for Asian-American studies. Without an Asian-American historian, a critical foundation for the academic landscape is lost. Dr. Chang's talk highlighted this need on campus and provided great scholarly insight into the dynamics of history, politics and race in the construction of the Americas."

In addition to events held throughout the week, the Southeast Asian Language Workshop series for language learners of all levels made a reappearance as the kick-off to Asia Week 2018. Monday evening, the language workshop was held in the FedEx Global Education Center, where Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian languages were taught for free. 

Choi said the events included during Asia Week and APAHM helped shine light on the needs of the Asian and Asian-American community. 

"Asian-American students have needs that are distinct from that of Asian students," Choi said. "Asian-American students are ignored and invisible to the University, especially in relation to the resources and support they receive from the administration."

Mary Lagdameo, associate director of the Carolina Asia Center, said they plan to continue Asia Week in the future, as it is a good way for faculty, staff, students and the Chapel Hill community to collaborate and learn through a variety of events. 

"Throughout Asia Week, the CAC seeks to highlight, energize and celebrate the diversity of Asians on campus and invites everyone to learn more about Asia through our events and programs," Lagdameo said.


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