March 26, 2015

Asian-American Heritage Month events set

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will celebrate Asian-American Heritage month with numerous special events and guest speakers during April. 

The festival actually begins with a kickoff event at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, in the Student Center’s International Lounge. The kickoff will introduce many of the special activities planned and feature light refreshments. Event organizers will also honor some faculty members for their work. 

Rais Bhuiyan will present the keynote address, “The Healing and Transforming Power of Forgiveness,” at 7 p.m. on April 16 in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. 

Bhuiyan was born in Bangladesh with a strong Islamic background and later moved to Dallas for a computer technology career. After the 9/11 attacks, a reported white supremacist Mark Stroman, calling himself “the Arab slayer,” shot Bhuiyan in the face and was also charged in connection with killing two other men; all three men were from southern Asia. In July 2011, Stroman was executed by lethal injection in Texas for the slaying of one of the two men; he was charged but not tried in the other shooting death.     

Bhuiyan lost an eye and still has 35 shotgun pellets embedded in his face.  But, he responded by choosing a path of forgiveness and unsuccessfully tried to get Stroman’s sentence reduced to life in prison. Bhuiyan met many times with his attacker, getting to know him on a personal basis. Bhuiyan formed the “World Without Hate” campaign to promote forgiveness, healing and compassion. 

“The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas,” a book by Anand Giridharadas about Bhuiyan and his story, was released last year and plans are underway for a movie. Bhuiyan has received a number of honors for this work and attitude, including the 2011 American of the Year award from Esquire magazine. Everyone is welcome to attend his address. 

On April 7, SIU will host its first FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) gaming tournament. Hosted by the United Asian American Council and Alpha Tau Omega, it will take place at 6 p.m. in the Old Main Room at the Student Center.  Participants pay to enter but there’s no cost to watch. 

Rene Poitevin, director of the Hispanic Resource Center, along with Nilanjana Bardhan, professor of communication studies/director of graduate studies, and Bin Zhang, a doctoral student and teaching assistant in communication studies, will present “Immigration, Citizenship and Identity -- Asian-American and Latino Perspectives” at 5 p.m. on April 9 in Faner Hall’s University Museum Auditorium. 

People can make and eat sushi or create Raku pottery at special Student Center workshops as well. Learn to cook vinegar rice and roll nori to create sushi from 5 to 7 p.m. on April 1 or April 10 in the Old Main Room at the Student Center. The cost is $10 for SIU students and $12 for the general public and includes all supplies. The Student Center Craft Shop and United Asian American Council are the sponsors and pre-registration is required by calling 618/453-3636. 

A four-week Raku pottery workshop will enable people to learn to use the pottery wheel or build pottery by hand using Raku clay. The workshop will meet at the Craft Shop on the lower level of the Student Center from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays from April 2 to 23. The cost is $30 for SIU students or $40 for the general public or participate on a daily fee basis for $15. A special Raku firing is set for April 25 where the pieces will be completed using the ancient Japanese firing technique that produces crackle and metallic finishes. The cost for the firing only is $7. The workshop is for ages 14 and up and the class size must be three to seven people. Register in advance by calling 618/453-3636 or by emailing

All Asian-American Heritage Month 2015 events are free and open to the public with the exception of the workshops. 

The complete event schedule and additional information is at, or call 618/453-3740 for more details.