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ASAM Community Engagement

The Asian American Studies Program fosters a commitment to creating transformative learning spaces that is based on a critical understanding of “community engagement.” As one of the core thematic foci of the program, we envision community engagement both as a practice and process that involves bridging the academy and community while interrogating this very process and being attentive to the specific needs of both actors and the possibilities and challenges inherent in this relationship. We do this by providing our students with curricular, research, and programmatic opportunities that aim to meaningfully connect them to various communities, locally and globally, and providing them with the theoretical and analytic tools and frames through which to engage in this work. Below are some examples of the exciting projects that reflect this vision.

ASAM Community Engagement Project (CEP)

The ASAM Community Engagement Project (CEP), led by Dr. Rooshey Hasnain, is a project funded and supported by AANAPISIthat aims to provide pathways for connecting Asian American and Pacific Islander students to the community by focusing on issue-based projects.  Under the auspices of this initiative, ASAM offers community based-learning and programmatic opportunities that raise awareness about pressing issues facing Asian American communities. In Fall 2012, Dr. Hasnain’s ASAM 490 course on Mental Health, Asian Americans, and Community Engagement, collaborated with Erasing the Distance, a non-profit arts organization that uses theatre to shed light on mental illness. This collaboration provided students opportunities to learn about collecting and transcribing stories from the community and shaping them into docudrama scripts that were performed in a theatrical production, “The Small, Dark Room” in Spring 2013.  This Fall 2013, through Dr. Hasnain’s Community Engagement  course, ASAM is collaborating with CIRCA-Pintig, a community arts organization. This collaboration will provide students with an opportunity to learn how to incorporate dramatic elements of theater and the organizational process of play production for examining community issues, all of which will culminate in a co-produced stage performance in Spring 2014.

In conjunction with community-based learning, a key component of ASAM CEP is finding ways of creating a community placement program for students. Toward this end, ASAM is developing an interactive electronic database that will serve as a platform and pathway for allowing community organizations, student organizations, and faculty within and outside of UIC to learn about one another and identify possible synergies and interests that may result in internships, or research, curricular, and programmatic collaborations.

ASAM CEP has also been a pathway for student involvement through the ASAM CEP Task Force. In Fall of 2012, the ASAM CEP task force comprised primarily of UIC students, was instrumental in coordinating “KIN-ETIC: Activating Asian American Students in Civic-Community Life,” an event that brought together students, faculty/staff, community organizers, activists, and other leaders together to explore and share resources about  civic-community projects centered on the needs and strengths of Chicago’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

For more information about ASAM CEP, please contact Prof. Rooshey Hasnain at 

Collaborative Research Projects

Faculty in the program have initiated a number of projects that involve partnerships with community organizations. For example, Anna Guevarra’s “Collective Historicizing” project is a partnership with two Chicago Filipino community organizations – the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) and CIRCA-Pintig. It is a project that explores the development and implementation of a series of community-based collective historicizing workshops that involve a fusion of multi-arts and storytelling exercises to creatively engage community members in civic issues. Through these workshops, the goal was to deploy a form of intentional political organizing and create a space where participants actively engage with each other through the process of storytelling. Analyzing these processes of dramatic action and engaging with the methodology/theory of collective historicizing through grounded fieldwork in Chicago, the project provides insights about the nature of civic participation, political organizing, and the possibilities of collective democratizing action in contemporary mid-West America.

Another example is Rooshey Hasnain’s project, Asians with Disabilities Outreach Think Tank  (ADOPT) with UIC’s Center for Capacity Building on Minorities with Disabilities Research (CCBMDR). This initiative partners with organizations that provide services to Asian American populations in the greater Chicago area to increase access and participation of Asian consumers in the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services.