New Asian American center connects with students, partners with international universities

The new Asian-American Studies Center aims to partner students, scholars and educators from Asian countries to explore educational and cultural topics. Photo courtesy of VCU School of Education

Katie Hollowell, Contributing Writer

The center is temporarily located on the fourth floor of Oliver Hall in the School of Education until renovations are complete. Photo courtesy of VCU School of Education

The new Asian-American Educational Studies Center opened in the School of Education this semester to build stronger partnerships with international Asian universities and local Asian communities.

Education doctoral student Yingying Jiang said visiting students were exposed to new opportunities and beliefs from the early childhood/early elementary practicum and U.S. PreK-20 Summer Program, two of the programs at the center she helped facilitate.

“These short-term abroad opportunities at VCU had offered these visiting students so much to learn, both personally, professionally and culturally,” Jiang said. “Their exposure to a different education system, instructional strategies and administrative definitely opened up horizons and challenged their beliefs.”

The new center opened up in Oliver Hall, and the director plans to create an association for Asian students within the School of Education.

“We will have our own Asian student association to provide continuous support for students,” said Director of the Asian-American Educational Studies Center Yaoying Xu. “We recruit them but we also want to ensure that in addition to the university, we can provide continuous support through the school level.”

The new center’s mission aims to partner students, scholars and educators from Asian countries to collaborate and explore educational and cultural topics to create a meaningful niche.

Multiple programs have been completed or will be completed this semester:

  • Early childhood education/early elementary practicum in spring 2019
  • PreK-20 Program in summer 2019
  • Research conference at Jiangnan University in fall 2019
  • Collective international research lab

The center will also open up an exchange program to China to “establish and maintain strong partnerships with universities from China and other Asian countries,” Xu said.

A VCU News release stated there are two visiting scholars at the center this year from Shanghai Normal University’s School of Tourism and Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Finance. The goal is to spread the program to India and Vietnam and extend the program from one year to three years.

The center is temporarily located on the fourth floor of Oliver Hall in the School of Education until renovations are complete. The new center will be completed next year and is located on the third floor of Oliver Hall near the breezeway.

Xu says the new center will have meeting rooms and cubicles for students to come and do work together. Originally not in the plans, she believes adding the cubicles and areas for students to hang out together will bring together Asian students from across campus.

Vietnamese Student Association member and current School of Education graduate student Kristina Nguyen said the center will offer opportunities for representation of different communities.

“It would be a great way to celebrate and learn about other Asian American cultures – i.e. Chinese, Indian, Burmese, Thai, Japanese etc,” Nguyen said in an email.

One of the goals for the center is to “strengthen the Asian community at VCU through increased Asian student enrollment,” Xu said. 

According to university data, there were 753 Asian international students enrolled last year. The number of Asian American students enrolled at VCU has increased from 3,495 students to 4,032 students in 2018, according to the university’s Institutional Research and Data Support.

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