2022 Georgia Tech Diversity Symposium Session Descriptions

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Finding and Locating Asians in America:  A Quick Walk Through a Long History

Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Professor of History, American Studies and Ethnic Studies, Brown University

To be Asian in America is to hold up a mirror to see all our reflections as Americans in our collective history through the ages:  immigration followed by exclusion; racialization, racism, and mass incarceration; colonized subjects and war refugees of the American Empire; a yellow peril and an alien ineligible for citizenship morphing into a model minority; linked fate with all peoples, white and of color; transnational and global interactions.  In short, Asians are implicated at every critical point of American history in our march towards freedom and equality for all, yet their presence in this history has remained largely unremarked and unacknowledged.  Paradoxically, however, it is an invisibility occasionally punctured by bursts of hyper-visibility, such as blaming the pandemic on the “China virus” and the current spate of unprovoked, violent public anti-Asian attacks across the country that has shocked and awakened us to the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Indians, and other Asians living and working in our communities. This lecture reveals the winding path of the Asian American experience in America and unravels the tortured logic behind so many apparent contradictions.

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Empowering Students from the Global South to Build a Culture of Inclusive Excellence 

Katja Weber, Ph.D., Professor, Nunn School of International Affairs 
Ashan Deen, B.S. candidate, Computer Engineering

Azell Francis, Ph.D. candidate, International Affairs
Rachel Goh, B.S. candidate, Mechanical Engineering
Yasser El Masri, Ph.D. candidate, Architecture

While Georgia Tech is proud of its diverse student population, many international students from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America find that differences in upbringing, culture, religion, and language are challenging barriers that those from non-Western countries must navigate. As a 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Fellow, Katja Weber, Ph.D. hosted a two-part workshop for students from the Global South. One half-day workshop included trust-building and leadership activities at the CRC's climbing wall, and the other half-day conversation considered ways to make new arrivals feel safe, welcome, and empowered at Georgia Tech.  

Challenges identified by these workshop participants include prejudice, language barriers, cultural insensitivity, loneliness, and financial hardship. Participants also brainstormed recommendations to build a culture of inclusive excellence. 

This panel session will address barriers that students from the Global South confront and propose resources that would assist international students in adjusting to life at Georgia Tech.  By sharing their experiences as international students with members of the Georgia Tech community, the panel aims to raise the awareness of peers, faculty, and staff.

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Challenging Conversations: Building Cultural Understanding by Addressing Barriers to Belonging

Diley Hernández, Ph.D., Associate Vice President of Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Usha Nair-Reichert Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Economics
Kenji Terawaki, Business Intelligence Developer, Undergraduate Education
May Dongmei Wang Ph.D., Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

To achieve cultural understanding, we have to overcome cultural misunderstandings. Rather than a play on opposites, this is a complex process that involves actively building cultural understanding by addressing misconceptions, challenging assumptions, resisting pulls towards superficial judgments and appearances, and exploring in-depth the experiences that cause disconnection among people and among people, places, and spaces. In this session, we will address this tension between superficial knowledge and deep understanding, and that between appearance and reality; all of which contribute to the problem of the illusion of inclusion. 

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My Path to Anti-Racism as an Asian American Educator

Jennifer Ho, Ph.D., Professor, Ethnic Studies; Director, Center for Humanities & the Arts, University of Colorado Boulder

The daughter of a refugee father from China and an immigrant mother from Jamaica, whose own parents were, themselves, immigrants from Hong Kong, Dr. Ho will discuss her family’s immigration story, why she embraces the label “Asian American” and what being Asian American means to her, and how through both her personal experiences as an Asian American woman and her professional scholarship in Asian American studies and critical race studies she has come to see anti-racism as a path of liberation that she wants everyone to embrace.

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Media Representations as Cultural Perspectives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Modern Languages
Jin Liu, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Modern Languages
John Thornton, M.F.A., Senior Academic Professional, 
School of Literature, Media, and Communication
Amanda Weiss, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Modern Languages
Ida Yoshinaga, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Literature, Media, and Communication

Media narratives shape and are shaped by social values and individual perceptions concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion. This panel offers an opportunity to reflect on the ideas about diversity, equity, and inclusion that creators reference in media and that consumers learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion from media. The discussion will address how can we apply such lessons about diversity and multiculturalism to improve real-world equity. 

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Creative Reflection: The Humble Chair

Conversations about DEI encourage individuals, institutions, and communities to explore ways to gather around the table and challenge power imbalances, injustice, and inequities. The Humble Chair, an art-based DE&I experiential developed by two art therapists, uses the symbol of a chair to engage participants in a process of self-reflection and community dialogue. The Humble Chair encourages conversations about DEI across personal, interpersonal, and institutional levels and centers the identity, intersectionality, social location, and lived experiences of the individuals gathering around the table. Participants will be invited to construct/draw/collage the structural elements of a chair throughout the day.

A culminating art piece will be constructed at the end of the day, with each participant offering their chair to the final design of the collage, arranged around a metaphorical Georgia Tech “table”.

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