“What Am I Doing Here?”: Making Meaning in Culturally Engaged Asian American Community-Based Service-Learning

“What Am I Doing Here?”: Making Meaning in Culturally Engaged Asian American Community-Based Service-Learning

Wei Ming Dariotis, Arlene Daus-Magbual, Grace J. Yoo
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2900-2.ch006
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Creating and maintaining meaningful, educational, and culturally engaging service learning partnerships between Asian American studies programs and Asian American community-based organizations (CBOs) is both challenging and rewarding. The Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University was founded in partnership with both student organizations and community-based organizations, and has sought to maintain the promise to bring university resources and knowledge into the community, while bringing community resources and wisdom into the university through a variety of campus-community partnerships. This study reviews that history in order to contextualize current relationships and practices within institutionally structured community service-learning (CSL) designated courses. A survey of students, community organization partners, and faculty engaged with Asian American service-learning in the San Francisco Bay Area reveals the benefits and challenges of culturally engaged service-learning, suggestions for best practices, and future directions.
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Doing Asian American Studies In The Sf Bay Area

California has the largest and one of the most diverse populations of Asian Americans of all the states: 14.9% of the state’s population (as of 2010: 5,556,592 residents). The City and County of San Francisco is approximately one-third Asian American (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). The Asian American population of the city and county of San Francisco is predominantly Chinese Americans followed by Filipino Americans. The Asian American demographic also includes Asian Indian American, Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans, Japanese Americans, Pakistani Americans, Cambodian Americans, Hmong Americans, Laotian Americans, Taiwanese Americans, Thai Americans, and Asian Americans of mixed heritage, including a significant number of Asian transracial/transnational adoptees. The line between “Asian immigrant” and “Asian American” is sometimes difficult to discern and cannot always be drawn at legal citizenship. Given the history of racist immigration laws like the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the Immigration Act of 1917 that formed the “Asiatic Barred Zone,” and the 1924 Immigration Act that set up a racial quota system, Asian American identity is considered an identity of intent more than it is of law. Given this understanding, Asian Americans have a long history in San Francisco reaching as far back as the Gold Rush and the building of the transcontinental railroad with the arrival of Chinese laborers who then would be followed by Japanese, Korean, Asian Indian, and Filipino laborers (Ancheta, 2006).

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