Eric Langowski

Langowski finds his voice at IU Bloomington’s Asian Culture Center

Eric Langowski

Even before he arrived at IU Bloomington, being involved with the Asian Culture Center was a goal for Eric Langowski. Now a 

junior mathematics major, the Carmel, Ind., native has become an integral part of the ACC, an Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA) program.

 “One of my best friends in high school, her older sister worked in the ACC,” said Langowski, an ACC student assistant. “I knew in high school that I really wanted to work there and be involved. I was really happy when they hired me as a freshman.”

 At the ACC, which is in the midst of its annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration, Langowski uses his math acumen by utilizing analytics and helping to draw attendees to the center’s wide variety of events. But beginning this academic year, he’s started to expand his role.

 “My grandmother is Japanese. I’m a fourth-generation Japanese-American. My family lived in California at the time, so they were interned during World War II. The other three parts of my background are all European,” explained Langowski. “Recently, I organized and moderated a panel, which is the first time I’d ever done anything like that. It was on the 70th anniversary of Japanese-American internment, which was in February.”

 “It’s called a Day of Remembrance event. Wherever there’s a large community of Japanese-Americans, they have these events to commemorate it and everyone gets together. But at Indiana, there’s only about 30 people I know that are Japanese-American, so we never have really had these events.”

 Langowski credits ACC Director Melanie Castillo-Cullather for not only encouraging him to find his voice, but creating a community where people of all backgrounds feel comfortable and supported.

 “When I mentioned [the Day of Remembrance event] to her, she helped me make it happen. That is representative of how she is trying to enable everyone to have their own voice and express what they’re passionate about,” he said.

“She’s doing that for every single different interest group and voice all the time. She creates the environment that fosters that discussion. We carve out a space where we can discuss racism and all the other issues on campus, and make the campus a better place.”

If you have a job and you really love it, and enjoy going there and every time you go, you have a good experience, that’s what the ACC is. All the students who work there are friends.

Asked to describe how Castillo-Cullather and the ACC staff manages to serve the diverse population of students who come to the center while maintaining an environment that’s become a home away from home for so many on the IU Bloomington campus.

“I kind of view it as a time where we can enable every group to break out of the general stereotype of being Asian and Asian Americans as being homogenous as one group. So, personally, I love that we can give individual groups a voice. The events are broken down by each student group and they each have a platform to express its unique story. It’s about education and showing everyone else exactly how diverse and how much is going on. I think that’s what the events we put together will do,” he said.

“I’ve seen the ACC benefit groups of people different ways. One of the things we do is the service for English tutoring and we have people from CAPS in the ACC, where they have office hours. I see that really help international students on campus and make a resource we already have more accessible to them. For others, it does kind of fall back into the interest groups,” continued Langowski.

“A while back, we had somebody come in to talk about [Phillipines President Rodrigo] Duterte at the School of Global and International Studies building, and that was a really interesting event. I told all my friends who would be interested and got some of them to go. I try to spread the events to people I know who would be interested in them. It’s always difficult for people to understand exactly how much of a home the ACC is and how everybody is welcome there all the time—you can just come in to do your homework—but once people understand that, I think they really enjoy it.”

 Aside from the ACC, Langowski is also quite involved in a number of student and community organizations, including: the Bloomington Symphony, which performs in rural communities around Bloomington that don’t have their own orchestras; Youth Advocating Leadership and Learning, a campus service-learning organization that recently traveled to New Orleans; IUSA, in which he runs elections for student government on campus; and the Japanese-American Citizens League, a nationwide civil-rights organization dedicated to educating America about what happened to Japanese-Americans in World War II and advocating for Muslims and other groups being segmented or segregated from society, serving on the board of the Midwest district as the youth representative.

 Those experiences, enhanced by his work at the ACC, has helped Langowski gain a better sense of his post-graduation career goals.

"Working at the ACC has helped me change my mind a little bit. I’m looking at graduate school, but in a social science, research way. I’m looking at public policy right now, which entails the work we do at the ACC, as well as some of the other work I do at other organizations,” said Langowski.

“If you have a job and you really love it, and enjoy going there and every time you go, you have a good experience, that’s what the ACC is. All the students who work there are friends. We go out when we’re not working, just hang out and talk. It’s the kind of environment where it’s a very strong community on campus. That’s what the ACC tries to be—it’s a home that anyone can come into.