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UPenn celebrate 25th anniversary of Asian American Studies

The year 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the formation of Asian American Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania.

The university marked the anniversary with podcasts, weekly alumni events, and a conference-themed “Visualizing Asian American Futures” on Saturday with a keynote speaker Cathy Park Hong, 34th Street reports. Hong, the author of the best seller Minor Feelings, provided a unique perspective on Asian American identity with race and how arts influence politics and culture. 

The Asian American Studies program at the university started in the fall of 1996. Fariha Khan, the co-director of Asian American Studies, said the program “began with this movement from students wanting to be recognized and included,” according to Penn Today

A petition launched by the Student of Asian Affairs for support of a permanent professor of Asian American Studies had received over 1016 signatures in three days in 1993, Penn Today reported. These efforts by students have kickstarted the formation of an academic program that have continued to teach the Asian narrative and represent Asian Americans in American history. 

Now, the University is currently hiring at least three more faculty members to teach courses in Asian American Studies, David L. Eng said to Penn Today. As the faculty number will double from this effort, Asian American studies will be able to offer more research, mentorship and course offerings. 

Asian American studies Undergraduate Advisory Board (UAB) Co-chair Jennifer Kang said the expansion of the program is a big step forward.

“The increased support for the ASAM program is a culmination of efforts from the UAB from five years ago,” Kang said according to 34th Street. “Although it’s a victory, we want to build upon this and grow the ASAM program even further.”

“There is so much student interest,” Eng says to Penn Today, referring to some classes Eng teaches that fills up the day registration opens. “As we expand the program, we will be able to offer these much-in-demand classes on a regular basis.” 

In this 25th celebration of the program, Khan shows a positive outlook for even further growth if the Asain American studies. 

“I hope the growth of Asian American Studies is relentless over the next 25 years,” Khan said to 34th Street. “This means more research opportunities, more programming, more courses, and finally growing the ASAM minor into a major.”

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