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Asian American Studies 197A
Winter Quarter 2002

Aimee Pham, "If You Think the System Is Working . . ." Aaron Chung, "Recognizing the Value of Asian American Studies"
Esther Cho, "On the Road to Activism" Sean Na, "Confronting the Model Minority Myth"
Gillian Claycomb, "How Class Dynamics Shaped My Consciousness" Arlen Benjamin-Gomez, "Creating a World of International Solidarity
and Humanity"
Hyun Ja Pak, "My Education Is an Opportunity to Empower My Community" Jenny Bryer, "Locating Myself Within the Landscape Called Asia America"
Melissa Hilario, "How Discomfort Can Promote Action Today" Jessica Kim, "Learning from the Workers of Assi Supermarket in Koreatown"
Raymond Ramirez, "My Responsibilities as a UCLA Student in a Time of Changing Class Dynamics" TJ Lee, "The Struggle for Dignity and Value"
Greg Hom, "How Class and Racial Identities Interact with Each Other"  

Reflection Journal 1

This assignment is due by e-mail to both Glenn Omatsu and Erin O'Brien by Monday, January 21. For this assignment, students will write a reflection essay of at least 500 words (about two typed pages) responding to the following questions. This writing assignment provides students an opportunity to think about the relationship in this period between their lives as UCLA students and the lives of Asian Pacific immigrant workers and to think about ways that students can use their skills, talents, and resources to support labor movements for justice.

Thirty years ago when the field of Asian American Studies began, class dynamics in our communities were very different from now. Thirty years ago, almost all students taking Asian American Studies classes at elite institutions like UCLA came from backgrounds closely connected to the lives of low-income workers in their communities. Many had parents who worked in low-income jobs. Others had parents who operated small businesses in ethnic enclaves of low-income workers. A small number of students came from families in professions, but most of these professionals (i.e., doctors, lawyers, etc.) worked in ethnic enclaves and interacted with low-income workers daily. Today, class dynamics in Asian Pacific American communities are different, and the differences affect the consciousness of students at universities like UCLA. For example, today, while there are still large numbers of Asian Pacific American workers and small business people in ethnic enclaves, there are now unprecedented numbers of professionals living in suburbs. Professionals today — unlike those of a generation ago — are no longer restricted to careers in ethnic enclaves. Today, Asian Pacific American professionals are more likely to be found "outside" the enclave economy in the corporate and public sectors and may have very little contact with immigrants in ethnic enclaves.

Thus far, few in Asian American Studies have examined how today’s changing class dynamics in our communities affect the consciousness of students, especially at elite institutions like UCLA. Today, at top-ranked universities across the nation there are growing numbers of Asian American students, most coming from suburban families with professional backgrounds. This growth has created an unprecedented situation — for the first time in history, Asian Pacific American communities potentially have access to power and resources previously denied to them. However, it’s also important to remember that this new development is occurring at the same time that many other people are losing access to higher education in elite institutions due to the end of affirmative action and the rising cost of college education. Moreover, worldwide we see a growing gap between rich and poor, the haves and have nots.

1. Today, some have characterized the overall situation described above positively as a period of great opportunities for Asian American students at elite institutions like UCLA. Others have identified this period as one of danger. Still others have identified this period as containing both great opportunities and great dangers. What is your viewpoint? Would your viewpoint be similar to or different from that of low-income immigrant workers?

2. As a student taking an Asian American Studies class, how do you think that today’s community class dynamics have shaped your own consciousness? In this period, does your status as a student taking a class in Asian American Studies at UCLA present new responsibilities and new possibilities?

3. In this period, what are specific ways that you as a UCLA student can use your skills and talents and access to power and resources to support the struggles of low-income immigrant workers?









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