GLAS 105: Asian American Identities, Cultures, and Communities

Instructor: Jeffrey Alton and Celeste Aguirre

For their final project, students were asked to reflect on the following questions:  What is something you are taking away from AAMP? Has this class given you something that you can use as you continue here at UIC or beyond? Please share your reflection on your AAMP experience through a medium of your choosing.

Reflections by Krishna Thakker

Illustration by Krishna Thakker

Firstly, I would like to apologize for the crude photo editing. I had never used Photoshop before this project, so it didn’t turn out quite as good as I had hoped.

Coming into this class, I felt conflicted about the interplay between my Indian heritage and my American upbringing. Although class discussions in a community that could relate to that struggle was helpful, the main way this class helped me resolve this internal conflict was by showing me that there is a unique Asian American heritage that I can also lay claim to.

Prior to this class, I had only ever learned about American history or Asian history, never the cross section between the two. So although I will take some great relationships with my group and familiarity with AARCC, my takeaway from this class has been learning the history of Asians in America and getting the sense that I stand on the shoulders of giants, so to speak.

My very poor Photoshop job attempts to illustrate this newfound sense of heritage by analogizing my experience to that of Aang in the popular show “Avatar the Last Airbender.” In this show, this panel displays Aang with his past lives standing behind him. The premise of the show is that Aang taps into the knowledge and wisdom of these past incarnations to guide him and to gain a sense of identity. Therefore, given that learning Asian American history has given me a new tenet to my sense of identity, I have represented myself as Aang and the Asian American historical figures I have learned about as the past lives.

Notably, I’ve included Yuri Kochiyama and Grace Lee Boggs, important Civil Rights activists. I also added Larry Itliong, an activist for worker rights that helped organize the Delano Grape Strike. Finally, in the back-left corner is Bhagat Singh Thind, a Desi born in the United States to immigrant parents that sued for citizenship back in a time where Asians were denied citizenship rights. Avid “Avatar” fans will also note that the order of the Asian American figures is intentional, and that the most recent figures are represented as the most recent past lives of Aang, and that the rest extend backwards in chronological order. “

Illustration by Janna Jann

Illustration by Janna Jann

Janna’s reflections in picture.