As students are working hard at finals, I’ve got my own research project coming up! I was accepted to lead a workshop at the annual East Coast Asian American Student Union conference, this year hosted at my lovely alma mater, Duke University. 1,500+ students from dozens of colleges and universities will attend to see keynote speakers, enjoy Asian American performing artists, and meet other Asian American college students. I know that U.Va’s Asian Student Union intends to go this year. The theme of ECAASU 2012 is “Rediscovery. Renaissance. Revolution.” Even though it’s not for another 3 months, I’ve got lots of research and work to do before I’m ready. The audience will primarily be non-Christian I’m assuming and so I’m especially excited that my job brings me into the arena of Asian American activism from the secular side!
The seminar I’ll be leading is entitled: “A Future Together?: bridging this divide between religious and non-religious Asians.” Summary from my workshop application:
Today in Asian America, two camps of Asian American life have arisen from the 2nd-generation – religious & non-religious Asians. Yet these 2 groups, with so much in common, have tended to be separate, at odds even with each other. Each camp has staked its claim on one source of identity – the non-religious have claimed cultural history/political activism & the religious have claimed spiritual identity. This dual path is detrimental to BOTH sides; in fact, we need to have a future together if we are to reach our full potential. The combination of the 2 together can be a revitalizing & mobilizing force for Asian America to produce better social & political outcomes for ourselves & others.
Religious (particularly Christian) Asian Americans need Rediscovery – they are sorely out of touch with their shared cultural heritage and immigrant history, which inevitably makes them disinterested in the pressing and important political and social issues facing the larger Asian America today. If they could Rediscover where they come from, they might have a hand in that fight too. Conversely, non-religious Asian Americans are, perhaps due to assimilational difficulties or uncomfortable experiences with religious persons, often spiritually or religiously orphaned. Few Asian Americans claim our historical religions except in name; most have little spiritual framework with which to interpret or navigate life, which I believe is detrimental to personal wellness and life experience. They need a Renaissance in their spiritual and moral sensibilities.
Ultimately, if these two parties could come together out of their Rediscovery and Renaissance, there could be a Revolution in Asian American activism and social engagement in this country – to benefit Asian America but also the nation or world at large with our incredible talents, gifts, and energy that so often goes unnoticed or untapped. We need the historical/political motivation (which non-religious Asians have) combined with the spiritual and moral strength and means (which religious Asians have) to enter a new era.
Excited? I know I am! I’ll post more updates about ECAASU and my progress as I get closer to February.