-- Multi-Ethnic Students from Across the U.S. Will Learn First-hand About Local
Asian-American Communities for One Intensive Week at Queens College --
FLUSHING, NY, July 19, 2010 — For many college students, summer vacation means going to the beach, camping, traveling, reading the latest best-sellers, or working to pay off their loans. One group of 17 students who hail from as far away as California, Washington and Michigan will be spending part of this summer in a very different way.
As participants in the week-long, intensive Summer Institute developed by the Asian/American Center (A/AC) at Queens College, these students will be learning first-hand about the history, contributions and cultural experiences of local Asian Americans. From July 25-31, they will tour neighborhoods, meet with community leaders, attend cultural performances and immerse themselves in lectures, discussions and workshops with faculty and other experts. All of this is designed with one goal: to give participants a richer understanding of the Asian Americans who live and work in Queens, one of the most diverse counties in the U.S., home to residents from more than 150 nations.
“The institute is aimed at 18- to 25-year-old students who have little formal or personal knowledge of Asian-American culture, as well as local students who wish to rediscover the diversity of Queens,” says Madhulika Khandelwal, Director of the QC Asian/American Center and Professor of Urban Studies. “Our borough is truly a microcosm of the ‘global in the local’ and includes both large and small Asian-American communities.” Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Tibetan, Nepali, Pakistani and Indo-Caribbean are among those the students will study.
Activities include half-day tours of Asian-American communities in the multicultural neighborhoods of Flushing, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, and Richmond Hill. During these excursions, students will visit mosques, temples, churches and other houses of worship, sample a variety of ethnic foods, and meet with business leaders and heads of community organizations. They will also visit such Asian-American organizations as the South Asian Youth Action (SAYA), Flushing Chinese Business Association (FCBA), Rajkumari Cultural Center, and the MinKwon Center for Community Action.
Back in the classroom, students will be exposed to a range of subjects such as acupuncture and Asian healing; economic development in Flushing; language barriers in health and education; Bhangra music; Asian-American voting rights, politics and literature; and generational shifts in attitudes.
In essays submitted with their applications, students described what drew them to the Summer Institute. One expressed a common theme: “Knowing a community by demographics and cultural statistics isn’t nearly enough to understand the heart of the people.” Another pointed out how understanding the culture of others “sparks creativity and innovation.” And some students were very specific about their motivation:
● “I want to use this knowledge and experience to one day give back and empower
● “I want to know more about (Asian immigrants’) adjustment to the American lifestyle and how the second generation deals with its identity issues”
● “I’ve always wondered how Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian and other cultures co-exist (in Flushing) and how the subtle differences in language and religion distinguish one from another”
All participants will stay in The Summit, the college’s on-campus residence hall. On the last day, a lunch reception will be held where the students will present their “research and reflection reports” on what they have learned.
The A/AC at QC was founded in 1987 and is dedicated to developing community-oriented research to analyze the experiences of Asians in the Americas and the Caribbean with a focus on the local/global communities in Queens. In 2009 the A/AC received $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a new curriculum in Asian American Pacific Islander Community Studies (AAPICS) with courses in various academic departments, internship opportunities in local communities and a dedicated resource center. The Summer Institute was conceived in association with the new AAPICS curriculum for QC, whose new courses were introduced this past spring.
Queens College is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive Asian-American Studies programs in the City University of New York (CUNY) and has a strong commitment to its multi-faceted Asian Initiatives program. Created in 2008, the program aims to coordinate and expand Asia-related programs college-wide, and to secure appropriate funding. Program activities enhance academic offerings and spearhead innovative programs for the college community, offer Asia-related public programs to the greater Queens and New York community, and establish stronger visibility for Queens College locally and in different Asian countries. QC’s more than 20,000 students come from over 140 nations and speak scores of languages, creating an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming environment.