March 30, 2012

Asian American Heritage Month starts April 3

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- “Local Lives, Global Ties” is the theme of the April’s Asian American Heritage Month celebration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.           

The 2012 festival features a wide variety of activities including films, martial arts, discussions, live performances and even an Iron Chef competition, SIU Carbondale-style. 

“I think that it is important for everyone to take advantage of cultural offerings like those during Asian American Heritage Month.  It is key that we explore outside the boundaries of our own history, and programs like these offer us the chance to gain a new perspective on what it means to live in the United States.  Asian American history is our history and the better we understand our history, the better citizens we can be,” Rexann Whorton, a higher education master’s student from Ava, Mo., said.

Frances Shen, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois-Springfield, will be the keynote speaker at an April 10 presentation.  The discussion, “Uncovering Asian Americans’ Experiences with Stereotyping,” looks at the various types and forms of stereotyping affecting Asian Americans in the U.S.  Shen will highlight psychological research examining the impact stereotyping has on Asian American college students. 

Shen is an SIU Carbondale alumna, earning her doctorate in counseling psychology from the University in 2008.  Her research focus is on multicultural issues in psychology, including race and ethnicity, religion and spirituality as well as lesbian/gay/bisexual issues.  She particularly concentrates on Asian American psychology and has recently conducted a variety of research projects focusing on the impact internalized stereotyping has on Asian American college students. 

The Asian American Heritage Month celebration wraps up with the Taste of Asia Spring Festival on April 28.  It’s a time of fun under the sun outside Shryock Auditorium enjoying food, game and live performances highlighting Asian cultures.

“Asian American Heritage Month benefits the SIU Carbondale community because it allows students, faculty staff and people from the surrounding area to take part in a culture and traditions they may not have experienced before.  It’s a great way to learn more about the world and people around you and your role in it all,” Jenna Bartak, master’s student in higher education from St. Louis, said. 

The Asian American Heritage Month 2012 schedule, with all events free and open to the public unless otherwise noted, includes:

April 3

            •  T’ai Chi, 5:45-6:45 p.m., Gaia House/Interfaith Center.  You can participate in this ancient martial art with a focus on nature and soft resistance.

April 10

            •  “Uncovering Asian Americans’ Experiences with Stereotyping” keynote presentation by Frances Shen, 6 p.m., Student Center, Illinois Room.  Shen will explore stereotyping of Asian Americans in the United States and the effect it has on college students. 

April 12

            •  More than a Martial-Artist or “Model Minority”:  Dialoguing Stereotypes around Asian Americans and Asian Masculinity, 7 p.m., Student Health Center Auditorium.  The Progressive Masculinities Mentors will examine and debate the competing, conflicting and sometimes confusing pop culture representations of Asian American masculinity. 

April 14

            •  Eighth Annual Iron Chef Competition, 5-8 p.m., Quigley Hall Auditorium.  This is the University’s popular annual version of the television’s Iron Chef cooking contest.  Seven teams of competitors will vie for the title of Southern Illinois Iron Chef. 

April 16

            •  “Slaying the Dragon,” film and discussion, 6 p.m., Student Center activity rooms C and D.  This movie explores how perceptions of Asian women in American society can actually influence Asian American women and how stereotypes can create illusions about who they are culturally.

April 17

            •  Asian Americans in Sports:  The Jeremy Lin Effect, 7 p.m. Student Center, Illinois Room.  New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has gained quite a following around the world, acquiring a number of nicknames and fans, even inspiring the “Linsanity” following.  This discussion will focus on how Lin and other Asians impact the sports world.

April 18

            •  Jonathan Shay public lecture, 7-8 p.m. Student Center, Ballroom D.  Shay, a clinical psychiatrist, is a 2007 MacArthur Fellow with extensive experience treating combat trauma in Vietnam combat veterans.  He’s the author of “Achilles in Vietnam:  Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character,” a book that parallels Achilles’ epic battles with the experiences of individual veterans, and the 2002 book “Odysseus in America:  Combat Trauma and the Trials of the Homecoming,” correlating veterans’ experiences with Odysseus as a metaphor. 

April 21

            •  Vigil for Peace, noon-1 p.m., corner of Main Street and Illinois Avenue in Carbondale.  Join people from campus and the community in a vigil for peace and time of raising awareness about global issues.

April 23

            •  Earth Day celebration, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Student Center.  The Student Center’s annual Earth Day event includes a Green Fair, live music, guest speakers, gardening and an awards presentation.

April 28

            •  Taste of Asia Spring Festival, 2-6 p.m., Shryock Auditorium, front steps.  This celebration wrapping up the monthly commemoration highlights Asian cultures through food, games and live performances. 

The Student Center’s Craft Shop is also hosting a number of special craft activities throughout the month.  Each Tuesday in April from 6 to 9 p.m. participants can create Raku ceramics and the artwork will undergo a Raku firing.  Or, stop by the Craft Shop any Friday between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. and get a henna tattoo.  The cost is just $1 for SIU Carbondale students or $2 for anyone else. 

You can also make sushi dish ceramics April 11 and 18 during Craft Shop hours on a walk-in basis.  The cost is $15 for University students and $20 for anyone else.  For details about the Craft Shop activities, call 618/453-3636 or email

Sponsors of Asian American Heritage Month include Student Life and Intercultural Relations, United Asian American Council, Student Center-Craft Shop, Japanese Student Association, Chinese Student Association, Indian Student Association, Malaysian Student Association, Progressive Masculinities Mentors, Student Center, Humanities Forum and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

For more information, contact United Asian American Council President Linh Tran at or Douglas Calhoun at