After years of hard work, the Asian Culture Center (ACC) on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus marks an important milestone: 25 years of promoting awareness and understanding of Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures, history and issues.
A center reporting to the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, the ACC is the first of its kind in the Midwest. Its story began in 1988 when a group of Asian American and Asian international student leaders advocated for meaningful changes on campus through a student-based center. Their vision over the next decade ultimately inspired a legion of students, faculty and staff to bring the ACC project to life.
“The Asian Culture Center is an instrumental part of the Bloomington campus, a place that supports and builds unity among Asian and Asian American communities and educates anyone interested in learning about the history and culture of Asian and Asian American communities,” says James C. Wimbush, vice president for the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership.
“Today, the ACC is known as a welcoming space where people can find an inclusive and supportive community committed to celebrating diversity,” Wimbush adds.
Melanie Castillo-Cullather, director of the Asian Culture Center, echoes those sentiments. “The ACC story began when several of IU’s Asian American and Asian international student leaders and many student groups sought a place to gather to learn, celebrate and affirm their Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American heritages. They envisioned a place where their talents and passions could be recognized, their stories and voices heard and where they could be seen and celebrated. This sentiment continues to drive the mission of the ACC today and the activities it supports,” she says.
Indeed, a central focus of the center involves coalition-building and serving as a voice for Asian-identifying students and community members. As part of this work, the ACC offers a multitude of programs and events throughout the academic year. These efforts range from educational and culturally enriching activities to exhibitions to stimulating discussions on contemporary issues related to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Several events are planned for the ACC’s 25th anniversary. Throughout the weekend of October 27-29, 2023, activities will include a special panel featuring accomplished Asian American alumni, a digital community archive collection in collaboration with the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities and a celebratory gala highlighting the diverse cultural identities and narratives within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
“The ACC's 25th anniversary is such an incredible opportunity to celebrate both the rich history of the AAPI community at IU as well uplift the amazing and welcoming community that we have, through student performances, a cultural fashion show, local Asian cuisine, an alumni panel and more,” says Katelyn Wo, a junior studying neuroscience with minors in community health, global health and chemistry; student assistant at the Asian Culture Center; and president of the Asian American Association. “I cannot wait to see everyone's cultural wear and have a chance to celebrate the beauty and love that this community and the broader IU community has to offer."
Visit the 25th Anniversary Events page to register.