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Diversity at Bryn Mawr 6 Week Project

Changing Our Story 6 Week Project Proposal

Significance of the Issue: While there are many Asian students, international and from the US, we have noticed that there aren’t very many students who identify as Asian American. We want to bring attention to this minority at Bryn Mawr and examine the individual struggles that are associated with being caught in between Asian and American culture.

Objective: To portray the issues that Asian American students at Bryn Mawr face and to give insights about how they see themselves and fit into the community at Bryn Mawr. We believe that by observing this topic, we will be able to encourage discussion about a group of students that is not usually focused upon.

Plan / Approach: There are several methods in order to answer various questions about what it means to be Asian American, especially at Bryn Mawr College. These options include possible interviews with students who identify as Asian American, an analysis of the population of Asian American students compared to international students and other ethnicities, and possible insights into various culture groups on campus and examine the diversity within those groups. Using this information we plan to create either a video or an article that would help to exemplify individual experiences that occur on campus.               

References: Our resources will be primary sources, interviews conducted by us from students at Bryn Mawr College as well as archives that are held within the school.


How is the term “Asian American” defined? Does being born and raised in America mean you are automatically Asian American? What if you are only ethnically Asian but have not partaken in any of the culture?

Did you always identify as Asian American?

Do you feel as if your Asian background and your American background are equal?

What are some issues concerning being Asian American? Is there anything specifically in terms of stereotypes?

For my six week project with my partner, Dorothy Kim, we plan to look at Asian American representation and the Asian American experience at Bryn Mawr. I am interested in pursuing this project because I rarely hear the perspective of Asian Americans at Bryn Mawr, just as I rarely heard it at my high school. In addition, I haven’t met very many Asian American students, mostly Asian students. I am also interested because of my own personal experience and identity. I’m curious about how many Asian American students there are at Bryn Mawr total especially because I recently spoke to an upperclassman who told me that there were very few. This sparked my interested because it’s curious that with such a high percentage of students of color, there aren’t very many Asian American students.

I expect that it will be difficult to find student to talk to because neither I or my partner know very many Asian American students. In addition, it can be very uncomfortable or cause anxiety to speak to people about your race, ethnicity, identity, and experiences. I anticipate people being shy and desiring anonymity or not wanting to speak with us at all.

We hope to interview these students and either record their voices or film them. I would like to film them because I believe that it will be more authentic to have people addressing the audience and speaking about their own experiences. It’s like having a primary source, which is much more compelling than having a secondary source. Hopefully, if the students allow us, we will film their interviews and then, edit them into a short movie that we will show to the class.

To begin, we plan to create a survey to find some self-identified Asian Americans. We will post the survey on Facebook to attract responses. Then, we will sort through the answers and contact people who respond that they would be willing to help us with our project. From there, we will edit the video clips into a film.  



Anne Dalke's picture

Francesca and Dorothy--
I’m liking your plan to interview Asian American students and develop a report that exemplify individual experiences. I’m curious about why you are interested in this topic (or: how is each of you related to it?). I’m also interested in how you will select who you will interview. ASA, which welcomes both Asian and Asian American students, might be a great place to start; I know that the group has changed their name several times over the past few years (they were the “Hyphen Asian-American Students’ Association”; then the “Asian/American Students Association”; they’re now the “Asian Students Association” in an effort @ offering more inclusivity. So I suspect there’s some interesting history there!) The Asian American students in our 360 on “the Poetics and Politics of Race” might also be willing to talk with you about how they see their location amid black and white students here.

Your initial proposal focuses mostly on the interviews. I think that it’ll also probably be important to gather a few statistics and some history before you begin interviewing (you mention primary sources and archives—how will you go about accessing those?) What could you find out about how Asian American students are recruited? What percentage of the student body is actually comprised of Asian Americans? Are financial aid packages responsive in any way to ethnic difference? (I’m remembering some charged public debate about this 20 years ago: )
Do you want to go into the archives to look for such history? Or talk w/ someone in Admissions or Financial Aid about policies and #s?

Another thought I have is that, rather than asking how Asian-American students “fit into the community,” you might ask how they negotiate the “contact zone” that is Bryn Mawr (what dimensions do they feel most require “translation”? Where do they experience gaps, discomfort, difference--and how do they manage these experiences?)