“Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.” This is the definition of civic engagement, according to the New York Times. This message strongly resonates with the Asian American Center at Queens College and truly serves as their mission.
The Asian American Center works with the QC student community in plenty of ways, most notably by offering a very special scholarship. As with any scholarship, this one is intended to help students complete their college education, and is awarded on the basis of financial need and academic achievement. One of the recipients, Nabila Chowdhury, a junior political science major, had plenty to say regarding how the Asian American Center helped her. “The A/AC strives to create a space for Asian Americans to explore their identities, express their struggles, and through that, identify the issues our community faces, critique them and hopefully learn how to challenge obstacles. I am immensely grateful to have been able to receive the scholarship, be a part of the Student Council, and meet amazing Asian activists through the meetings.”
Another development that appeals to many Asian-Americans is the newly-added Asian-American Studies Minor. Chowdbury chimed in by saying, “I admire the unbelievable amount of work being put in to create the Asian American Studies Minor and to allow students to explore their own histories and identities through academia, as well as creating space for them to do so outside of academia, as well.” Henry Weng, a student council member at the Asian American Center, agreed, explaining that ,“The center is connected to the newly developed Asian-American Studies minor.” He went on to elaborate on how the Asian American Center works with students. “It also provides opportunities for research and outreach, a small stipend for Student Council members, and an annual scholarship for qualified students.”
“The minor offered in Asian American Community Studies is the Center’s way of reaching out to the student body, and educating them,” Associate Director Hong Wu stated. The minor’s primary goal is to offer interdisciplinary knowledge of the Asian American experience and to encourage awareness about the culturally diverse communities of the New York City area. The minor reaches out to several fields of studies, including English, History, Political Science and Urban Studies.
Getting involved at the center is quite easy. A member of the Asian American Center, Asmi Lal, explained how. “I was sent an email invitation to be affiliated with the center, so I decided to take up the opportunity, because being an Asian American myself I had certain concerns and issues that I wanted to voice out, but didn’t how to or where to let it out.” She continued by saying, “This was the first time I felt accomodated in the sense that although QC campus has a vast amount of Asian Americans, they don’t have any specific space, community, program or even center for immigrant students who aren’t able to receive financial aid, or even finish their studies due to the lack of money. But when I heard about the Asian American Center, their values, and the help and resources they provide, I couldn’t help but feel supported.”
Ultimately, it is worth noting that the environment of the Asian American Center is something quite remarkable. It can be best described by none other than Asmi Lal, a member of the community. “The environment, the space they provide, along with the numerous amount of help and resources they arrange for the students. For example, they offer a Student Scholarship and a Student Leadership Award, they awards these to students in order to recognize their needs and accomplishments. They do it solely for the purpose of helping students complete their education and be proud of themselves as they live and succeed in a diverse society.”