Rachel Aranyi’s interest in the DestinAsian Chicago trip began out of an interest in learning more about the communities near her hometown. An IU Bloomington freshman from Buffalo Grove, Ill., studying Jewish Studies, Aranyi wanted to learn more about the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in nearby Chicago, Ill.
“It was cool to learn things I had never been taught before,” Aranyi said. “I didn’t know there was a Cambodian American Museum in Chicago, I didn’t know some of the history regarding Japanese internment. It was really enlightening to be able to hear things I had never heard from people who were directly affected.”
Aranyi’s experience was just one of the takeaways students found through the DestinAsian retreat. Held on Apr. 5-6, the retreat, which was organized by the Asian Culture Center and supported by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA), brought a group of IU students to Chicago to learn more about the history and culture of the city’s AAPI community. Organized in partnership with Residential Programs and Services’ CommUNITY Education Program, the DestinAsian retreat allowed students to meet firsthand with members of Chicago’s AAPI communities and learn more about their historical and contemporary experiences.
"Part of our diversity and inclusion efforts at IU include connecting students with impact leaders and cultural magnet communities,” said Yolanda Treviño, assistant vice president for strategy, planning and assessment with OVPDEMA. “It was good to see the ACC put this into practice on the DestinAsian trip, which forged connections between our students and AAPI communities across Chicago."
Held in April, the DestinAsian trip coincided with Indiana University’s celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM). With events taking place across the university’s campuses, AAPIHM allows IU to celebrate and uplift the AAPI communities who call the university home. On the Bloomington campus, the DestinAsian trip complemented a series of films, lectures and gatherin
Building on the success of last year’s inaugural trip, the 2019 DestinAsian retreat gave students the chance to learn about a number of AAPI communities across the Chicago area. In addition to taking historical and cultural tours of AAPI neighborhoods, students also visited the city’s Rohingya Cultural Center, along with the Cambodian American Museum and Killing Fields Memorial. In addition, students had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Japanese American Citizens League. Throughout, students had the opportunity to speak with members of AAPI communities who had directly been impacted by the historical or cultural forces they were learning about on the trip.
Sarah Moon Stamey, program associate at the Asian Culture Center, said that she hoped the trip would be the foundation for students’ future examination of the communities around them.
“Even though the trip is only two days, we hope it sparks their curiosity to learn about the people around them, be it in Bloomington, in their hometowns, or wherever their future travels may take them,” Stamey said.
According to Lloyd Graham, assistant director for Residential Life and CommUNITY Education Program director, collaborating with the ACC on the DestinAsian trip provided a powerful opportunity for students to examine identity and form stronger bonds with each other.
“Being able to provide such an expansive experience related to the diversity within in one identity is very meaningful and eye-opening,” Graham said. “I hope attendees were able to see and understand the diversity of identity in the AAPI community, such that it allowed them to make connections beyond just race and ethnicity.”
Reflecting on her experience on the trip, Aranyi noted the impact the weekend learning about AAPI communities had on her.
“To learn from other communities helps you understand your own identity,” Aranyi said.
For more information about events taking place throughout AAPIHM, visit the Asian Culture Center’s website.