* Raymond, my nephew, was immersed in a book. Around him were 24 of us, all first- and second-generation Chinese-Americans. We had gathered at my mother's house to celebrate Mother's Day. When I asked if he was preparing for an exam, Raymond apologized and explained, "Oh, sorry, no. I just couldn't put it down, because it seems to be talking about me." He was reading Sucheng Chan's "Asian-Americans: An Interpretive History."
Raymond is a political science major. A serious young man, he keenly felt the need to understand his political social background.
He was at UCI for a year, but sensing that the administration was reluctant to start an Asian-American studies program, he transferred to UCLA. He feels deeply for his former schoolmates who are pushing for an Asian-American studies program at UCI.
A heated discussion at the dinner table revealed a great deal of confusion as to what constitutes Asian-American studies.
Asian-American studies encompasses a field of intellectual inquiry into the Asian/Pacific-American experience in the United States. Subjects covered may range from literature, history, psychology, medical practice to public health issues, migration studies, social welfare, international economics, to name but a few. Asian-American studies foster self-, intercultural, and international understanding.
It is very different from East Asian languages and literatures, which concentrate on the languages and literatures of China, Japan, Korea, etc.
The students at UCI have the right to demand that there be an Asian-American studies program.
They should not have to transfer to UCLA to learn about themselves.
\o7 Rose Cheung is a member of the city of Irvine's Intercultural Advisory Committee.