United in Diversity: Perspective from Asian Professors

By Amelia Tirey | Staff Writer

3 mins read
Students engage in conversation with professors Image courtesy of Amelia Tirey

Drew University prides itself on its diverse student body and the variety of student-led organizations that celebrate that diversity. Among those organizations is the Asian Student Union. 

The club is aimed at uniting Asian and Asian American students to form a safe community on campus. When asked about the club, President Kareena Salvi (‘23) states “One of the reasons I wanted to start ASU was mostly because I, frankly, have never seen myself on campus and I feel that there are a lot of other racial ethnic cultural groups on campus that create safe spaces for their communities… I feel the Asian group is very segregated and separate and it’s hard to find unity.” 

Student asks questions
Image courtesy of Amelia Tirey

To achieve this unity, the club’s most recent event included bringing together three of Drew’s faculty to talk about their experiences with race and culture. The event was titled “United in Diversity: Perspective from Asian Professors,” and brought together Professors Sangay Mishra and Dr. Phoebe Tang, from the political science department, and Dr. Di Bai of the Chinese department.

 The talk was monitored by Salvi and Tamayo Zhou, the club’s advisor, who came prepared with a number of questions to ask the professors, as well as open questions from the audience near the end. The event also provided attendees with tasty MochiNut as a snack during the educational talk. 

Students heard first-hand experiences from the professors as they were asked detailed questions. There was a common theme of self-identification for their Asian identity, and all expressed that they viewed identity as malleable and ever-changing and hard to truly define. All of the professors agreed that the idea of being Asian was not a huge concern for them until coming to the United States and being engrossed in American culture. 

Tang talked specifically about how her young daughter’s experiences being raised in America have changed how she views her own identity. When asked specifically about the event, she stated “I appreciate the platform to share identity issues in a relaxed and personal manner. It was also a delight to see a great deal of diversity among the audience, paying attention and engaging the discussion. I’m proud of the students who take the lead to organize events as such for the community.” Attendees expressed a great deal of admiration for Asian Student Union and the promotion of the Asian studies courses at Drew. 

The talk was a success drawing in a good crowd of students and faculty. The event was highly educational and ASU stated that they hope to host more events in the future to further their goal of creating a safe and educational environment for all Asian students.

Amelia Tirey is a sophomore majoring in history with minors in music and political science.

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