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Queens College program examines Asia

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The Asian population of Queens makes up a significant portion of the borough’s diverse cultures and in an upcoming program Queens College students will get to explore that rich spectrum firsthand.

The college’s Asian American Center announced Dec. 8 that it has partnered with 13 local nonprofit organizations like South Asian Youth Action!, Minkwon Center for Community Action, and Damayan Migrant Workers’ Association to give students hands-on experience in learning about various Asian communities throughout the borough next semester.

“Asian Americans need to know about each other and about themselves,” said Madhulika Khandewal. “We also want other students who are not Asian to learn about different Asian groups. These are their neighbors.”

Queens College has a large Asian-American student population, which is why the program is particularly relevant, according to Khandewal.

The center already offers several classes like Asian-American History, which focuses on New York and Queens, or Asian-American Communities, where students go out to various ethnic neighborhoods and meet with community leaders.

But the partnership will basically provide the students with internships and each nonprofit that is involved has a specific project to complete.

The project for the Asian American Writer’s Workshop is called “Open City: Blogging Urban Change.” Queens College students will work with the organization to train residents about blogging so that those residents can then record the oral histories of various Chinese neighborhoods around the city.

The New American Leaders Project submitted a proposal in which students will help prepare foreign-born Americans and their children to run for political office in an effort to give a voice to the Asian diaspora.

Khandewal said the partnership will benefit students, but will also provide support to the 13 organizations.

“This is such important work that’s being done,” Khandewal said. “And it will make education a bit better for our Queens College students.”

The other organizations do empowerment workshops and other community-based services in a variety of ethnic areas.

But just like Queens, the makeup of Asian Americans is more diverse than you think.

Countries like China, South Korea and Japan are typically associated with Asia, but South Asian countries like India and Nepal are also included as well as Pacific Island nations like the Philippines and Guam.

“The diversity among the Asian groups is so tremendous,” she said. “It’s very hard to cover.”

Khandewal also hopes to offer a minor beginning in the fall.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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