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Asian American Education Initiative

The Asian American Education Initiative is co-organized by the College of Education and the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Illinois, co-sponsored by the Center of Global Studies and the Asian American Culture Center. The mission of the Asian American Education Initiative is to promote social justice in education by bringing Asian American literature to classrooms and increasing the visibility of Asian American history in the curriculum at schools in the Urbana-Champaign area.  Please join us in our launching events throughout the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. 

May 5th, 2021, 6:30 pm OPENING ADDRESSWhy Asian American History is U.S. History by Dr. Yoon Pak (Register HERE!)

May 6th, 2021, 1:00 pm  Study Abroad in Indonesia: Learn to teach diverse students

May 10th to 19th, 2021  Asian American Book Drive and Author Presentations (Register HERE!)

Asian/Asian Americans and their legacy and contributions throughout history are virtually absent in the current K-12 curriculum in the U.S. The only times they are mentioned are the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese Incarceration in the social studies curriculum in one or two states. Due to the lack of Asian American history in the school curriculum national wide, not only many Americans do not know about Asian American history, but many Asian Americans themselves do not even know their own history either.

In Illinois, Asian/Asian Americans are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups, with a population of nearly 720,000 in 2019. Yet, there is still no content visible in the curriculum regarding Asian Americans in history. On April 15th, 2021, The Illinois lower house passed a bill: The Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History Act (TEAACH), requiring public schools to teach Asian-American history starting in the 2022-2023 school year. If the Act gets passed by the State Senate, it would make Illinois the first state in the U.S. to mandate teaching Asian-American history in public elementary and high schools.

At the University of Illinois, we are launching our Asian American Education Initiative to echo the need of teaching Asian American history in local schools. It aims to celebrate the value of Asian Americans in American history and their contributions to the community by bringing Asian American literature to local K-12 schools in the Urbana-Champaign area, inviting award-winning Asian American writers, authors, and poets to share their stories with children and teens in the classrooms (virtually), and working with teachers to introduce Asian American literature and history into the current curriculum.  

Through this initiative, we hope to (i) increase our community’s appreciation of Asian Americans and their contributions to society, (ii) help children and families develop a deeper awareness of the rising incidents of violence against Asian descendants and critical thinking about social injustice, and eventually (iii) bring everyone together in our community to embrace our diversity. 

Contact us

If you have any questions regarding Asian American Education Initiative, please contact Dr. Wei Liu at at the College of Education or Mike Yuchuan Shen at at the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies.