About a dozen members of the Asian-American Association (AAA) will join students from more than 50 other schools next month at Cornell University for the tenth annual college conference on the contributions of Asians to American society.
The theme of this year's conference, which is sponsored by the East Coast Asian Students Union (ECASU), is "Momentum for Change."
Included in the conference will be eight workshops on issues ranging from Third World unity to college admission quotas for Asian-Americans. Irene Shih '90, a former AAA representative to ECASU, said the Harvard group will conduct a two-hour workshop, entitled "Asian-American/Ethnic-American Studies," on the need to represent varied ethnicities in college curricula.
Shih said the workshop was necessary because "only the mainstream experience is well-documented and represented in American higher education."
According to Shih, the AAA-sponsored workshop will concentrate one three areas: benefits of courses that address ethnic American issues, integration of ethnic topics into a broader historical context for elementary and high school textbooks, and the structure of an Ethnic American Studies college curriculum.
Several AAA students have voiced their desire for an Ethnic American Studies department at Harvard. But such a department is only a long-range goal, in part because of a dearth of Harvard faculty knowledgeable about Asian-Americans. Shih said.
Eugene D. Lee '91, a member of the AAA committee, said Asian-Americans historically have been "a very unrecognized sector" of American society. "You never hear much about the Asian-American contribution," he said.
Artist Fred W. Houn '79, who is a founding member of ECASU, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the conference.
Students at the conference will attend two of the eight workshops offered, one dealing with current issues and future challenges and one dealing with strategy for change, Shih said. All students will attend a panel discussion of adult community activists "to give people a feel for where you can go [after] you're a student," Shih said.
Theo K. Cheng '91, a co-representative to ECASU, said that more than 520 students from 52 schools attended last year's conference. Elaine Cheon of Cornell's Asian student organization predicted the conference will attract more than 600 students this year. She said the conference will cost about $12,000 and is co-sponsored by five Cornell organizations.
David S. Chiu '91, co-representative to ECASU, said Harvard may play host to next year's conference.