Four honorees offer ideas on how to collaborate with AAARCC
What makes an ally?
Ask the four Purdue faculty members who were honored April 30 for their collaboration with the Purdue’s Asian and Asian American Research and Cultural Center. All have been very involved with the center, said AAARCC director, said Pam Sari, and are good examples of how others might participate. Many frequently attend the center events. Many hold classes at the center or invite the director to speak to their classes. Some are guest speakers for AAARCC. All are allies.
The honorees are:
Jerilyn Tinio, assistant professor of libraries and information studies. For this fall, Tinio and AAARCC have organized a workshop, “ Loud on Paper,” to teach Asian American and Asian students on campus how to create zines, a type of self-made publication that is often used to give voice to the marginalized. She plans to reach out to the more than 80 Asian-related student organizations on campus to encourage participation. Organizations will be invited to donate their zines to University Archives and Special Collections, diversifying library collections to reflect all student voices.
Tinio also worked with AAARCC to facilitate a joint reading by two Asian American authors from the Purdue English Department as part of the center’s “Reading Program and Speaker Series.”
Heejeon Bras , continuing lecturer, Purdue Language and Cultural Exchange (PLaCE). She teaches Purdue’s American Language and Culture course for international students. AAARCC has been critical in helping these students make connections during the pandemic, she said. And what they learned there has been eye-opening. “For example, they were not aware of the diversity of Asian cultures,” she said.
Bras takes her classes to visit all cultural centers on campus and has been a speaker for AAARCC’s “Lunch and Learn Series.” Most recently, using the award-winning movie “Parasite” as her springboard, she talked about the Korean cinema. Next fall she hopes to give a presentation on Min Jin Lee’s “Pachinko” to help people understand more about Asian immigrants and the Korean diaspora.
Bras also translates Korean folk tales and volunteers as a translator for Purdue offices, such as Enrollment Management, as well as for area high schools.
Annabelle Akin assistant professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Akin has a special interest in multiracial and Asian American ethnic identity and socialization in the family context. Not only does her involvement at the center tie to her research, she said, but it also is important “for students to see that there are Asian and Asian American faculty on campus.”
She spoke about her research this past year for the AAARCC “Lunch and Learn Series.” Then she opened the floor for questions, inviting the audience members to share their own experiences, and found the students “very engaged.”
They don’t feel open to sharing some concerns with their non-Asian peers who don’t have the same experiences, she said. The center, on the other hand, provides a safe place to talk, knowing there are other people there who experience similar challenges.
She also hopes to form a multi-racial student group on campus. About 1,200 Purdue students identify as multi-racial, she said. Nationwide, one in 10 identify with two or more races.
Stewart Chang Alexander , associate professor, Department of Public Health, Health, and Human Science. His research focuses on improving communication between medical providers and culturally diverse patients.
Chang Alexander looks for ways to integrate AAARCC into his class, “Intercultural Learning in Public and Health and Science,” in which many students are pre-med. He holds a class session at the center, and students attend at least two cultural activities at the center as part of the course requirements.
These students learn how Asians and Asian Americans have issues common to all minority groups, yet they also have distinct cultures depending on what part of Asia their heritage originates. They also learn about the rich opportunities AAARCC has to offer Purdue students, even for those who are not Asian or Asian American.
Through his presence at many AAARCC events, Alexander tries to model the importance of being an ally.
“I’m not Asian or Asian American,” Chang Alexander said, “but I believe that if you support diversity, you need to be seen - to show up. If we are going to counter racism and make Purdue a more welcoming place for everyone, then our students must learn about culture, immerse themselves in cultural activities at cultural centers, and, most importantly, make themselves visible allies. Showing you are supportive of others requires you to show others that you are there.
“AAARCC has so much to offer – for everyone. I love how they have programs ranging from formal lectures, movies and discussions, game nights, and are host to many student groups. There is something for everyone, and there is always something happening at AAARC.
“I wish more faculty knew about AAARCC and became involved with the center.”