Asian/Asian American Education Conference (AAEC) 2018

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You are invited to Asian/Asian American Education Conference (AAEC) 2018, which will take place at Teachers College, Columbia University on April 21 (Saturday), 2018.

The theme of the conference is “Uncovering Hidden Voices: Power, Identity, and Culture in Asian/Asian American Studies.” AAEC 2018 aims to expand the traditional understanding of education by paying attention to the Asian/Asian American population whose voices and ways of knowing have been overlooked in Westernized notions of knowledge, culture, and research.


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12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Registration
1:30 pm – 1:40 pm Opening
1:40 pm – 2:30 pm Keynote Address I: Dr. Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng
2:30 pm – 2:40 pm Break
2:40 pm – 4:00 pm Paper Session I

  1. How teachers exert agency in the context of the Korean Curriculum Autonomy Policy: Yeonghwi Ryu
  2. Problems and Challenges of Resource Allocation in Beijing’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) under the Population Policy Adjustment: Qun Ma
  3. Improving Mental Health Literacy Through Mental Health Education Among North Korean refugees in South Korea: Vidal Yook
  4. Understanding Cultural Differences in Seven Key Social Skills: An Asian Pacific American Perspective: William Howe, Margot Margarones

4:00 pm – 4:10 pm Break
4:10 pm – 5:00 pm Keynote Address II: Dr. Carol Benson
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Paper Session II

  1. Contextualizing a higher education institution’s literary practices to its international students: Minhye Son
  2. ​The Second Generation and the Past: Implications of Spaces of Learning Family Histories: Van Anh Tran
  3. Power of languages perceived by ethnolinguistic minorities who are ethnoreligious majority: A Case study of Indonesian Muslim college students: DooRhee Lee

The surprising influence of the Chinese zodiac


Sep 20, 2016 

Whether or not you believe in it, the zodiac system is a useful way to understand Chinese culture, says writer ShaoLan Hsueh.

Do you know your Chinese zodiac sign? According to tradition, it reveals more than simply your age — it’s a window into your personality, career, love prospects, and future good (or bad) fortune. For ShaoLan Hsueh (TED Talk: The Chinese zodiac, explained), the zodiac isn’t scientific truth, but teaching it is a fun way to achieve her real goal: to help the Western world develop a deeper understanding of Chinese culture. (She’s also created Chineasy, a visual learning system for Chinese.) Here, she dives into the history and modern relevance of the zodiac with lively drawings of each sign and its name in Pinyin — that is, the English pronunciation of Chinese characters.

The Chinese zodiac follows the moon (rather than constellations, as in the Greco-Roman zodiac system). It is divided into a 12-year cycle, with a different animal representing each year.“Every child in China, Taiwan and Singapore knows the story of the Chinese zodiac. It’s something they learn from birth,” says ShaoLan. Philosophy is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, and the zodiac, combined with the principles of yin and yang and the five elements, asserts a remarkable influence over people’s decisions and beliefs.

“If you ask people in China if they believe in the zodiac, many will initially say, ‘no, no. We are modern.’ But if you ask them when they want to have children, they’ll say, ‘hey, it’s not a bad idea to have a Dragon baby,’” says ShaoLan. Alibaba’s Jack Ma, she notes, is just such a Dragon baby. But as she says in her talk, “I went through the Forbes top 300 richest people in the world, and it’s interesting to see the most undesirable two animals, the Goat and Tiger, are at the top of the chart, even higher than the Dragon.”

Sometimes, zodiac signs become a quick shorthand. Once you reveal your zodiac sign, the person you’re talking to might start forming opinions on your personality. They’re also likely to start calculating your age. “At university, instead of saying, ‘I’m a freshman,’ it’s very common to say, ‘I’m a pig,’ or ‘I’m a horse,’” says ShaoLan. “Immediately we know the social pecking order in the group.”

As ShaoLan notes in her talk, “the Chinese believe certain animals get on better than the others. So parents choose specific years to give birth to babies, because they believe the team effort by the right combination of animals can give prosperity to families.” These individual family-by-family decisions, she says, “might seem small-scale, but it causes an actual fluctuation in consumer demand and impacts the economy.”


2016 is the Year of the Monkey, and the zodiac year for anyone born in 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, and 1944. Monkeys are clever, creative and mischievous — and this is supposed to be a good year for all. “Even if you don’t believe in it, the zodiac is a fun way to learn more about Chinese culture,” says ShaoLan. “It’s a reminder of how important it is to pay attention to different societies and keep an open mind about our many differences and similarities.”




As State School Enrollment Declines, Rocky Hill’s Grows


On the east side of town, where six years ago officials shuttered an elementary school, Rocky Hill is doing the unheard-of in Connecticut: building a school to accommodate growing enrollment.

In the past five years, enrollment in Rocky Hill public schools has increased by 11 percent, a striking anomaly in a state where enrollment is sagging and districts more commonly close or consolidate schools than build new ones. That growth, brought on by a stable birthrate in town and an influx of Asian families, has required Rocky Hill to hire nine new elementary school teachers, add 11 portable classrooms to the district’s two elementary schools and break ground on a $48 million intermediate school, slated to open in the fall of 2019.

“We’re an anomaly based on the direction of our enrollment,” said Mark Zito, superintendent of Rocky Hill schools. “Statewide, many districts are shrinking; some districts are closing schools.”

Enrollment in Connecticut schools slumped 6 percent in the last 10 years, and in July the U.S. Department of Education predicted a 14 percent decline by 2026, or a loss of more than 75,000 students, tied with New Hampshire for the steepest projected drop in the country. Faced with half-empty classrooms, districts have shuttered schools — Enfield closed Nathan Hale Elementary in June, Eastbury Elementary in Glastonbury will be closed at the end of this school year, and Madison announced in September it would close an elementary school in two years.

Flagging enrollment is not a phenomenon unique to public schools. St. Mary School in Newington closed abruptly in August 2016 after school officials announced enrollment had halved over the last decade. In Hamden, St. Rita School and St. Stephen School merged this summer after years of shrinking class sizes.

But Rocky Hill has been an exception to the trend, Zito said, due to a fairly stable birthrate and, more significantly, rising in-migration. Many of the people moving into Rocky Hill are of South Asian heritage, and Zito said the district has seen “a significant increase in enrollment of children from India.”

Thirty percent of Rocky Hill’s students are ethnically Asian, according to district data. Fifty-four percent of Rocky Hill children born in 2013 were born to foreign-born mothers, a 2017 report from the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance found, and 55 children that year were born to Indian-born mothers — 47 more than the second-highest group, Pakistani mothers.

Sakshi Dave, a 38-year-old, self-described trailing spouse, moved to Rocky Hill in 2016 with her husband and 8-year-old son after living for stints in Torrance, Calif., Minneapolis and Atlanta. Dave’s husband works at an IT company in Glastonbury, and the couple settled in Rocky Hill because of ample space in the town’s sprawling apartment complexes and the well-rated schools. Dave and her husband hail from Bangalore, in southern India, but Rocky Hill’s sizable Southeast Asian population wasn’t much of a factor in their decision.

“I’m not in that little area where I only want to talk to people with the same food choices as me,” she said. “I want to go out and meet new people and try new things. That’s how I survived all these moves the past seven years.”

Their son, Sanshray, is in third grade at West Hill School. He’s immersed himself in sports and music, his mother said. Each night of the week, he is either at basketball practice, a piano lesson or reading his favorite A to Z Mysteries books at the town’s Cora J. Belden Library. The series was authored by Ron Roy, a Connecticut resident, and when Sanshray learned he was moving to the state, he was — for once — excited to move, his mother said. Nearly two years later, the family is now looking to buy a house in town.

“We’ve seen the best and the worst of America,” Dave said, “but this is a small, comfy, cozy place to live in.”

Shaun Dougherty, a UConn professor of education and public policy, said the ingredients for school-age growth are present in Rocky Hill — an increasing number of households, above-average household income, home prices at the median or slightly above it, yet not high enough to discourage people from moving in.

“All of this points to Rocky Hill being a pretty well-established and attractive suburb” for people looking to start a family, Dougherty said.

In respect to the town’s growing South Asian population, Dougherty said he witnessed a similar demographic shift when he was a schoolteacher outside of Philadelphia and a community of immigrants from Gujarat, India’s westernmost state, sprang up around a Merck office in a Philadelphia suburb. South Asian immigrants who work at Hartford’s insurance companies could find suburbs like Rocky Hill appealing, Dougherty said, with their large and fairly modern mixed-use housing developments.

“While Connecticut will see a net decrease in enrollment statewide, there’s going to be a handful of suburbs that are going to grow,” Dougherty said.

At Rocky Hill’s West Hill Elementary School, growth has been so dramatic the school no longer has space to seat all its students for assemblies.

“Even using both the gym and the [cafeteria], we exceed the capacity of both,” said principal Scott Nozik. “One of the things we can’t do anymore is have the opportunity for the entire school to come together, either to celebrate something or to all hear the same message.”

When Nozik became principal six years ago, West Hill had five second-grade classes. It now has eight. “You get to eight, and it becomes challenging. Where do you put all the kids?” Nozik said.

Last November, Rocky Hill voters greenlighted a $48 million intermediate school, intended to alleviate some of the pressure placed on Nozik’s school and the other elementary school in town. When the school opens — which Zito, the superintendent, said could be as early as the 2019-20 school year — Rocky Hill’s elementary schools will be converted to K-3 schools, and fourth and fifth graders will enroll at the new intermediate school.

In a report last December, a committee set up to oversee the intermediate school’s construction told the town council both elementary schools are “at maximum capacity,” and easing the overcrowding by adding more portable classrooms — as the district has done in the past — “will create problems with lunch waves, restroom access and special curriculum.”

Furthermore, K-5 enrollment is expected to grow by another 253 students in the next three years, the committee found.

“Logistically, we can’t wait for the new school to open,” Nozik said.

On Nov. 15, after nearly a year of committee meetings, reviews, site plans floated and site plans approved, a crew began demolishing the old Moser Elementary School, which closed in 2011 because of untenable maintenance costs.

Dave, too, is looking forward to seeing the new intermediate school. She wanted to take a more active role in her son’s education, and became co-president of the parent-teacher organization at West Hill School. Though many of the school’s students are Indian, Dave hasn’t seen similar representation in the PTO or in community groups. She’s trying to change that.

“More people are getting active — I have so many people of Indian background asking me how to become part of the community,” she said. “I tell them to get out of their shell. Go exploring. I love exploring.”