By: Renata Salazar
How much do you know about Asian American heritage?
This is the question students at Austin Community College should ask themselves when learning to embrace and honor different cultures and their traditions– a crucial factor to creating a welcoming and inclusive community at ACC. ACCENT spoke to Asian-American career counselor, Shun-Heng (Henry) Tsai, TV production major student Opal S. Framnes, and engineering student Alex Hsu who spoke on several aspects relevant to Asian American heritage month.
“Something I will never forget is where I come from, my background and origin is from Asia,” Tsai said.
Tsai honors his Taiwanese heritage in America by enjoying local Asian food as well as keeping up with films and books from his culture.. There are also official and local communities with events to celebrate diversity through Asian art, political issues, food, and other traditional rituals. Tsai is also able to help students with their career goals as an Asian American career counselor at the college like Hzu.
Hzu, an engineering major at ACC, is a taiwanese student who moved to Texas four years ago. As a minority in the U.S. Hzu consistently absorbs and learns more about different cultures, while still honoring his own.
“A big part of our Asian culture/heritage is having a very strong family bond,” Hzu shares, “we have a lot of festivals that are meant to be celebrated with family members, such as Lunar New Year, Moon Festival, and Qingming Festival.”
Student Opal Framnes, an Taiwanese student and mother working towards a major in TV production, believes being able to interpret and explain your own culture is an important factor when letting people hear your story.
“We have to do our own part first, and create opportunities that allow people to understand our culture”
“Everybody has different stories no matter who you are, so we need to let people listen to us”
“Even though most of our cultures are not similar at all, I think ACC, or any other institutions should do the same to educate their students to be open-minded” states Hzu.
“Different departments officiate events organized by the college that allows students and staff to participate and learn more about or even just help promote social justice.”
Implementing these events to get to know other people from various cultures sparks a conversation where students can mutually benefit from each other’s experiences.
To shed a light on the positive and interesting aspects of Asian heritage Framnes believes “It comes down to being a better person, we are living in a different country and we can contribute to a lot of things.”
Educating students, and ourselves is pivotal. Whether through your own research online or participating and seeking to learn about different heritages, you are taking the initiative to honor a different culture unlike your own. It is common for ACC students to come from a homogenous background. Tsai believes it is “very important to promote awareness of the idea of multiculturalism, diversity, equity and inclusiveness coming from any curriculum design”
ACC’s Dean made a statement regarding recent hate crimes against Asian Americans, officially demonstrating their stance of support against anti-Asia hate crimes. “The college is working to establish a new Asian-American cultural center and it has been an ongoing project now becoming part of the 2022-2025 Academic Master Plan.”
“It will be so nice for students to know that they have a student organization that belongs to them, and feel comfortable sharing their culture.” Tsai states.
With the following steps: hiring personnel and establishing other aspects, we should look forward to seeing ACC’s Asian American Cultural Center be installed in Spring 2021.
Alongside the new cultural center, students like Hzu are also in search of ways to get more Asian American voices involved at ACC. One of Zhu’s goals is to become a person that advocates for Asian American voices like his own.
“People only listen to the ones that are influential, so to let more people know our heritage, the way is to succeed and use your power and influence to change what people thought about you stereotypically.”
“This is all about educating oneself,” With relevant climates pertaining to Asian Hate crimes, it is important to know what you can do to support Asian Communities and prevent racially motivated crimes, and his response was–participate.
“Everything comes down to being aware of the prejudices and stereotypes we might usually project on to other races,” Tsai says.