Last weekend marked the ninth Biennial Asian Pacific American (APA) Conference sponsored by the Asian American Alliance (AAA), South Asian Student Association (SASA) and Oberlin Korean Students' Association (OKSA).
The focus of the conference was exploring the relationship between Asian-American studies and activism.
The theme of the conference entitled, From Margin to Center: Academics, Activism, and Resistance, affirmed the current struggle for Asian- American studies and represented a desire to explore connections between institutional activism with Asian-Pacific-American communities.
The keynote speaker, Evelyn Hu-Dehart, a professor of history and ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Director of the Center of Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America (CSERA), spoke on the state of ethnic studies and Asian-American studies.
While this year's conference marked the 25th anniversary of AAA and the fifth year anniversaries of OKSA and SASA, it also acknowledged the 25-year-long struggle for the implementation of Asian-American studies at Oberlin.
Theo Copley, student life intern, remarked on the need for both Asian- American studies and activism within the academia.
"The time is now for Asian-American studies. Students are protesting around the country for Asian-American studies; Oberlin is no exception. Oberlin has a very strong history of Asian-American activism. For example, AAA is one of the oldest Asian-American student organizations in the Midwest. One of the most enjoyable parts of the conference for me was to hear how activists who are at work in people of color communities began activism at Oberlin."
The Asian-American community has experienced significant changes in administration within the last five years. The Student Life Intern for Asian-American students, resigned last fall, leaving the Asian Pacific American community without any professional assistance. The recently-held positions of Director of Asian-American Affairs and the Asian-American Counselor Coordinator are no longer in existence. Because of these issues of struggle and others like them, a statement of purpose was presented for this year's conference.
Goals of the conference included improving connections between Asian Pacific American communities in the Midwest and elsewhere, questioning responsibilities of Asian-American students and scholars, renewing the fight for an Asian-American studies department, and celebrating the anniversaries of AAA, OKSA and SASA.
Some of the events included during the conference were workshops on the cutting edge of Asian-American discourse. Topics included lesbian, gay and bisexual issues, international feminism, violence against Asian women, and South Asian Politics.
Two Oberlin alumni, Myung Soo Seuck and Yin Ling Leung, also led workshops on immigration and labor issues which are pertinent to the Asian-American community. Jenny Lin, one of three co-chairs, was excited to talk to alumni about the similar experiences Asian-Americans students faced in the past and what they face today. She said, "Talking to alumni made me feel less alone. [I realize] others have gone through same things."
The need for implementation of an Asian-American studies program in the Oberlin curriculum was a major issue of this year's conference.
APAC keynote: Evelyn Hu-Dehart at the APAC. (photo by Tanner Mullen)
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 18; March 15, 1996
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