Today’s news:

Queens College center to study changing boro

The Asian⁄American Center at Queens College will pilot a new minor this fall in order to further study the borough’s changing demographics and link students and staff with Queens communities, the center’s director and associate director said this week.

Madhulika Khandelwal, the director, said the interdisciplinary minor will give students the “educational tools to analyze what’s happening in Queens communities” and will help to “strengthen campus−community relations.”

“You can find so many world cultures right here in Queens, and we want to utilize these communities to open up our mindsets as to what these communities are about,” said Khandelwal, a Douglaston resident. “Education is about breaking down barriers and breaking down stereotypes.”

The minor will not only study Asian populations in Queens, but focus on the borough’s growing diversity and how Asian American communities fit into this trend. The minor will include a wide variety of existing and new courses, from such current Chinese language classes to new classes focusing on Asian businesses, according to Khandelwal and Hong Wu, the center’s associate director.

The new program will also strive to create more links between the college and surrounding communities by encouraging students to participate in internships with groups throughout the borough, Khandelwal and Wu said.

Center officials have been sponsoring seminars to prepare faculty, students and community members for the program’s launch, and they will co−sponsor a forum on civil rights Monday from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Campbell Dome at Queens College.

City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing), Queens College history professor Premilla Nadasen and civil rights attorney Rocky Chin will be the guest speakers at the event, entitled “Redefining Civil Rights: Where Asian American Communities Stand in Today’s Multicultural Context.”

Khandelwal and Wu first thought about establishing a minor several years ago. They were in part inspired by the growing number of Asian Americans in Queens, especially in areas like Flushing and Richmond Hill, and the fact that one−quarter of the undergraduate population at Queens College is Asian American.

“In this program, we want to address Asian−American experiences, both now and in a historical perspective,” said Wu, a resident of Kew Gardens Hills. “We want to let Asians know how they’ve contributed to this land.”

Center officials said they not only want to target Asian Americans for the minor, but students of any background.

“We plan to invite successful Asian entrepreneurs to share their challenges and experiences, and that would excite an audience of different ethnic communities,” Wu said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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