Congratulations to Yvonne Merica, Helen Quang, and Kyle Tsukahira who successfully completed the AAAS Program and graduated in Spring 2012! Here is Kyle's reflection on our program and his experience at CSULA:
My name is Kyle Tsukahira and I am a recent graduate of California State University, Los Angeles’s Asian and Asian American Studies Program (AAAS). I am currently working at Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) on a part-time basis as well as interning at another non-profit organization, the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA). Over the summer I had the opportunity to participate in LEAP’s “Leadership in Action” internship program. This internship was particularly exciting for me because I am interested in pursuing a career in the non-profit sector. LEAP gave me the unique opportunity to: (1) see what working with an Non-Profit Organization entails, (2) apply the knowledge I've gained in school to fight for social justice, and (3) become a stronger leader in the APIA community.
Having just finished my B.A. in Asian and Asian American studies it was so important for me to be able to tie what I’ve been learning over these past few years to the real life experiences and people in the community. For example, classes like AAAS 415 are extremely vital because it not only teaches students about Asian American communities in Southern California it gives people the tools and knowledge necessary to work with and engage these extremely diverse and multicultural communities. I never really thought about the significance about growing up not only in Southern California but more specifically the San Gabriel Valley, which over the years has become a predominately Asian area. Seeing how this area has in so many ways become a pioneer of Asian American culture by drawing on the diverse people, cultures, and experiences of the community is extremely exciting. For me, growing up in the SGV inspired me to want to learn more about not only myself and my community, but also about the Asian and Asian American diaporas around the world. I am so glad I decided to major in CSULA’s AAAS program precisely because it was exactly what I was looking for.
I feel ethnic studies in general is extremely important because it teaches tolerance, respect, and most importantly includes the stories of people who are not in the high school texts books. It’s hard to explain but I felt a strong sense of pride and power learning about people who looked like me doing amazing things. I realized that just because Asians and Asian Americans were excluded from my entire my education up to that point did not mean they somehow didn’t exist or were not equally important to this country. That is why programs like AAAS are so important because it teaches people about the histories, experiences, and struggles of Asians and Asian Americans, in addition to other minority groups. This program also serves to inspire new generations of Asian American activists, politicians, and global citizens to stand up for their communities in order to ensure our stories and voices are heard and included.
In addition, what makes this program so exciting is the fact that, although it is still young and relatively small compared to other ethnic studies programs, it is constantly growing and improving. The class sizes are usually small consisting of about twenty people or less which makes the learning experience more intimate and personal. Instead of being stuck in a huge lecture hall with hundreds of students and a professor who doesn’t even know your name, you are able to connect with fellow classmates and with the amazing professors and faculty of the AAAS program. Many of the professors I have had are hands down some of the most knowledgeable and inspiring people I have had the pleasure of getting to know. I would highly recommend and encourage anyone with an interest in Asia and Asian America as well as ethnic studies as a whole to definitely major or minor in the CSULA Asian and Asian American Studies Program.
And here is a message from our alumni Natasha Khanna-Dang (Minor in Asian Studies):
Currently I work for the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON). The relationships I built while studying for my minor really helped open doors for me into the API Nonprofit world. During my last year at the CSULA, I worked closely with A3PCON staff and was encouraged to apply for an opening as an Executive Assistant and eventually got the position. While taking AAAS 415 with Dr. Ojeda Kimbrough I did my service learning project with Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) located in Historic Filipino Town in LA. I worked in their after school program and got alot of experience working with youth between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. This experience working with youth allowed me to get summer job as a camp counselor in New York. I am glad that CSULA has an AAAS program because it is dedicated to teaching students about issues that affect me and my community.
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Five student papers from the Fall 2009 HIST150 Asian American History class were published in the award-winning student journal,Perspectives vol. 37 (2010). The papers are based on students' interviews of Asian Americans in Los Angeles.