The Asian American Center hosted its 30th anniversary celebration in the Aidekman Arts Center on Sunday to commemorate the center’s success and its active alumni network.
During the event, which began at noon, students, alumni and faculty were invited to speak about what the Asian American Center means to them and how it has had an impact on their lives at Tufts. University President Anthony Monaco spoke in particular about Tufts’ Strategic Plan and how it pertains to the center, as well as overall campus diversity. He stressed the importance of a diverse student body and faculty, and commented on the progress that has already been made.
Jayanthi Mistry, an associate professor of child development, said the center is an intellectually engaging space in which students and faculty hold conversations on diversity issues. Tufts was the fourth university to establish an Asian American center, she said, making it one of the earliest universities to do so.
Director of the Asian American Center Linell Yugawa spoke last about the center’s history. In 1985, there were 200 Asians at Tufts in total; now there are 203 Asians within the class of 2017 alone, she said. Yugawa also commented on the addition of the new Asian American programs, such as the creation of the Asian American studies minor in 2012.
Students and alumni were then welcome to enjoy refreshments and performances by student groups such as BEATs, Pulse, Tufts Bhangra and the Jackson Jills.
Junior Jessica Wu, who led the organization of the event, said the center became a very important space for her upon her arrival at Tufts, as she met most of her friends there. At the center, she is able to speak freely about her identity, she said.
“It’s a safe space for me,” Wu said. “People understand me without any explanation.”
Junior Molly Chirunomula, a peer leader at the Asian American Center, echoed similar sentiments — that the center was the first place at Tufts where she felt she really belonged.
“I can go to Start House [the Asian American Center] and will feel like I’m at home,” Chirunomula said.
Buckley Yung (LA ’86), who was an active member at the center during its early stages of development, said he lived in the Asian American House at Tufts for two years. He remembers petitioning for the Asian American Center, and enjoyed seeing old friends at the celebration.
“I’m happy to be back and see how beautiful everything is,” he said.
Yoko Sano-Taylor (LA ’84) explained that efforts to create an Asian American Center were initiated after a racial incident at Start House. Sano-Taylor was present when the incident occurred.
“Rather than take the route of blaming … we decided to create something positive,” she said. “It’s great to come back and see something positive. It’s nice to see how [the history of the Asian American Center] is remembered.”