Thanks to all who attended the 5 College APA Leadership Conference and my Workshop!

Asian students seek ‘coalition’



Sunday, March 11, 2007By BEA O’QUINN DEWBERRY

AMHERST – With the theme of “Emerge, Empower, Embrace,” Asian and Pacific-American students gathered for their first leadership conference at the University of Massachusetts yesterday.

The aim was to help break the “silent minority” stereotype and forge alliances.

Hilan Wong, a senior at UMass and the event organizer, said that more than 120 students from Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and UMass participated.

She said the conference started as an idea to help bridge the five universities and colleges of the Five-College Consortium.

“Asian-Pacific-American students make up the largest minority of students in the Five-College system,” Wong said. “Too often, we found we we’re having these types of events, but one might be at Smith and the other at UMass. This will help us develop a network, a coalition.”

Workshops conducted included living as “minorities within the minorities,” police brutality, Asian-American activism in this country, and identity issues affecting trans-racial and trans-national Korean adoptees.

Amelia Harris, a senior at Mount Holyoke College born in South Korea and adopted by white Americans, said the workshop on adoptees was enlightening. She said there are 200,000 Korean adoptees in the United States

“I didn’t know much about the adoption procedures in Korea, and this was really eye-opening, quite sad, really,” she said.

She explained that some Korean women are coerced into giving their children up, and face limited rights or protective services.

“This made me want to do something, to look into adoption laws in Korea,” said Harris.

A workshop entitled “Asia: The Factory of the World – China’s Race to the Bottom” and led by UMass graduate student Edgar Chen exposed labor violations in U.S. factories in China.

Chen is pursuing a master’s degree in labor studies, and returned in January from doing research at two American-owned factories in Shen Zhen, the southern region of China.

“There’s so much corruption by the local Chinese government, and a lack of enforcement of labor laws,” he said.

He described the people who monitor many U.S.-owned factories as “the fox that guards the hen house.”

He added, “U.S. companies need to have greater accountability.”


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