Asians fear alienation, scrutiny

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Asians fear alienation, scrutiny

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By: Anna Lieth
Posted: 4/20/07
Days after the Virginia Tech shooter was identified as a Korean-American male by national media outlets, members of Duke's Asian Students Association gathered Thursday night to discuss the possible backlashes the Asian-American community may endure as a result of the gunman's actions.

During the discussion, which was sponsored by Counseling and Psychological Services and ASA, students addressed concerns about how aspects of Asian-American culture may intensify frustrations and pressures with which many students struggle on a daily basis.

Senior Kevin Fang, outgoing president of ASA, said the event was intended to give students on campus "an opportunity to process all that is going on."

"A lot of Korean students at Virginia Tech have gone home," he said. "Although they know that the shooting had nothing to do with race, they feel that there might be some repercussions."

The six students present also discussed the national media's coverage of the incident, questioning their decision to identify the race of Cho Seung-Hui, the shooter, and debating the relevance of this information in attempting to understand the motive for his actions.

They discussed whether or not the shooter's actions could be explained through his cultural and social identity, and talked about how situations like the one Cho faced can be prevented.

Some students shared experiences about other Asian-American students they knew who experienced pressures and feelings of cultural disconnect which led them to lives of isolation and depression.

Gary Glass, senior coordinator for outreach and developmental programming for CAPS, said his objective in helping to organize the discussion was to "provide an arena for things to get voiced that aren't often voiced-at least not in any formal capacity."

He added that he saw a variety of reactions expressed during the discussion.

"If there are voices that if they were more heard would further enrich the campus, then let's create a space where they can be heard," Glass said.

He said CAPS is devoted to supporting discourse with all different types of groups on campus, and that the Virginia Tech shooting presented a need for such discourse.

The students, however, pointed to the social stigma many students associate with counseling that may discourage students in need from seeking help.

The discussion was not limited to East-Asian students and included South-Asian students as well.

Junior Shawn Kwatra, a South-Asian student and incoming co-president of external affairs for Duke Diya, said he felt the topic of the discussion was important not only for East Asians but for all Asians and for international students in general.

Feelings of alienation are not only unique to Asian-American students alone but also affect foreign students of all backgrounds, Kwatra said.

"There is a cultural difference, and that cultural difference is something that doesn't have to be East Asian," he said.

Kwatra added that he felt the forum was a first step on the way to finding solutions that could prevent students from taking a similar path to the one Cho took.

"I think the biggest thing we need to do is raise awareness," Kwatra said. He added that it is important for peers to be able to recognize when others are suffering or isolated.

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Original Source: <a href=http://media.www.dukechronicle.com/media/storage/paper884/news/2007/04/20/News/Asians.Fear.Alienation.Scrutiny-2871400.shtml> Duke Chronicle - April 20, 2007</a>

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Anna Lieth

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Duke Chronicle

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2007-06-24

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Sara Hood

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David Graham <david.graham@duke.edu>

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eng

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Anna Lieth, "Asians fear alienation, scrutiny," in The April 16 Archive, Item #595, http://april16archive.org/items/show/595 (accessed September 18, 2014).