A new class, “Intro to Asian American Studies,” is being offered for spring term 2010. The class qualifies as a Women’s Studies elective and will be taught by Kevin Thomas.
He said it took five attempts at applying to have this class available through the Chiron Studies program. According to their Web site, the program “helps students develop and teach university-accredited courses with the support and guidance of a faculty sponsor.”
Thomas first became interested in teaching a Chiron Studies course after taking one himself. The class gave him an “amazing perspective” on what gender is.
“How can you have that perspective in a book? Having a different person teaching the class with their history and perspective…it’s different,” Thomas said.
He looks forward to the challenge of teaching this class, which will focus on 1850 to the present, and will look at who is Asian-American. According to Thomas, this is not a simple answer.
“People don’t know the basics. This information is not being taught in high schools,” Thomas said, referring to Asian-American history.
Thomas said different students will find different benefits within the course he has created and will teach next term.
“Some students will be learning about their own family and background. Some will take what they know and experience and hopefully share with the class,” Thomas said.
“It can be painful to not see yourself reflected in curriculum or media,” Thomas said, referring to ethnic minority students.
The class description states that the course will focus on the experiences of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Mongolian and Asian-Indian immigrants as well as Pacific Islanders.
Thomas hopes to have guest speakers from the community come speak to the class. Depending upon scheduling, the class may have speakers from the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center and Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon.
He is building a syllabus with realistic reading loads for each week from varied sources, available in a course packet that will be available at the PSU Bookstore.
“We will be constructing the big picture…it’s impossible to answer everything in one class, but we’ll be building good foundations for students’ future,” he said.
Thomas said that during the first week of class, he will be building a “safe space” for students to speak and share their own input and expectations.
“Culture is a story,” he said. “This class will not just be me lecturing.”
“Talking about racism, sexism and all the other ‘isms’ can be painful,” Thomas said. “I want to create a space where people can trust their classmates and say what’s on their mind.”
Source Daily Vanguard