An initiative pioneered by India Cultural Center (ICC) and UConn Asian and Asian American Studies Institute (AAASI) to document stories about South Asian American youth identity will culminate in the student-curated exhibit My Story, Our Future which will take place at the Greenwich Historical Society from February 13 – 26.
Created in alignment with Connecticut’s newly mandated K-12 Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) curriculum, the My Story, Our Future program began in fall of 2022, with a cohort of middle- and high school students participating in a series of workshops to learn strategies and approaches to conducting oral history interviews with family members.
Under the guidance of Dr. Jason Chang, Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies and Director of the Asian American Studies Institute at UConn, and Dr. Terry K. Park, AAASI Activist-in-Residence, and founding Director of Maum Consulting, students took part in lectures, demonstrations, and reflection on their identities as South Asian American youth, and how their family stories shaped those identities. The oral history interviews they conducted with family members will serve to build awareness of the contributions of South Asian Americans at the community level, the challenges, struggles and triumphs of their immigrant families and the impact on their experience as youth in Connecticut. One in every twenty people in Connecticut is of Asian descent, with India representing the top country of Asian origin in the state.
Over the next few weeks, My Story, Our Future students will collaborate with curatorial and education staff at the Historical Society to create a student-curated exhibit expanding on the family stories they gathered as part of the oral history program. Students are from Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Rye, and West Harrison.
“We are honored to collaborate with ICC, UConn AAASI and the participating students and their families on this important exhibit that will offer a rich and personal understanding of what it means to be an Asian American growing up in Fairfield County. We are also grateful for the enthusiastic support from former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo Indra Nooyi and various community leaders who will participate in a celebration marking the opening of this exhibit,” said Maggie Dimock, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections for the Greenwich Historical Society. “The My Story, Our Future initiative is a great example of a collaborative project that furthers our mission to preserve and interpret history to strengthen our community’s connection to our past, to each other and to our future.”
Initiative to Help Inform State’s AAPI Curriculum
As Director of the Asian American Studies Institute at UConn, in addition to overseeing the My Story, Our Future program, Dr. Chang will take a leading role in developing the State of Connecticut’s newly mandated K-12 Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) curriculum. According to Dr. Chang, My Story, Our Future is an excellent example of how grassroots community groups can help inform the model curriculum: “We’re going out to local communities in the state asking what’s your Asian American history? How has it impacted the community and what stories do you want known? The goal is for communities to tell us what needs to be in the curriculum, versus a top-down mandate.”
“The learnings will be invaluable for teaching K-12 students the histories and contributions of Asian Americans to the economic, cultural, social and political development of Connecticut and the U.S. And they will also play a role in informing the next generation of the Asian American contributions to our country,” continued Dr. Chang.”
According to Margie French, ICC’s Executive Director, Asian Americans are immensely diverse as there are 48 countries in Asia: “South Asians often get lost as a subgroup which is why it is so important for their voices to be heard and for their contributions to the state to be prominent in the new AAPI curriculum. The work that Jason, Terry and Greenwich Historical Society have done with My Story, Our Future is impressive and has far exceeded what ICC could have imagined.”
My Story, Our Future
Greenwich Historical Society: February 13 through 26.
Monday – Friday, from 9am – 5pm; Saturday – Sunday, from 12pm – 4pm
For more information: https://greenwichhistory.org/event/my-story-our-future/