CEHD News diversity

CEHD News diversity

APARC fills important need to support Asian and Pacific Islander students on campus

Students celebrate the opening of APARC’s new space in Appleby 311.

Did you know that Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students are the largest minority group on the UMN Twin Cities’ campus? They make up fully 10 percent of the student population, and up until last year, there were no specific university resources geared towards those students. That has recently changed with the opening of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Resource Center (APARC), which recently moved to brand new space in Appleby 311 and is welcoming drop-ins.

The center is funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant received by Bic Ngo, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Josephine Lee,  a professor in the College of Liberal Arts. APARC fills a need on campus to create a space for AAPI students to reflect on their identities, develop their voice, find community and academic support. APARC Program Director Kong Her explains that “What we’ve been hearing from students is they feel they’re not being heard. [Asian American students] have different challenges that are often not acknowledged by the institution and need different resources than the very broad services multicultural student services provide.”

Program Coordinator Peter Limthongviratn further explains that AAPI students often are not valued in racial discourse. “Some students feel their struggle is not seen as a real struggle and that they don’t belong in students of color spaces. APARC is important because it provides a dedicated space and resources to affirm their struggle while providing help and support.”

Ngo emphasizes that the AAPI population in the UMN Twin Cities campus is uniquely in need of support because the students “reflect the state’s large AAPI population, which has the greatest concentration of AAPI in the U.S. interior, including the largest urban Hmong population in the world at 64,442. The state’s AAPI population is strikingly different from that of the U.S. as a whole, with 50.2 percent of them identifying as Southeast Asian. This is significant, because this means half of the AAPIs in Minnesota are refugees or children of refugees. Census data shows that Southeast Asian Americans have among the highest poverty rates and lowest educational attainment rates.”

APARC is hoping to establish a relationship with the large Asian American community in the Twin Cities, especially the Hmong population. Her explains, “ In the Hmong community, the university is a renowned institution. Being able to establish APARC as resource center to support Hmong students strengthens that community connection.”  This can help establish trust with students and families that they will be welcomed at the university and thrive here.

The center supports Asian American students by focusing on three areas: academic support, identity affirmation, and community. APARC provides AAPI tutors and writing consultants for who can relate to the AAPI experience.  For instance, they often run into specific issues with AAPI students who feel torn between school and obligations at home. Often, people who are not AAPI don’t understand the obligation to family. They work with students on how to handle the pressure of family and communicate effectively with advisors and instructors.

APARC also helps students examine their AAPI identity through workshops, retreats, and lectures. “We want students to think about how to connect their identity to future careers and opportunities,” adds Limthongviratn.

The other area the center focuses on is cultivating a welcoming community for all AAPI students. “There was a disconnect of AAPI communities on campus,” says Her.  “All the students groups are pocketed; Everyone does their own thing. There was a need to come together and create one whole community and that’s what we are trying to do.”

To find out more about the services APARC provides or upcoming events, you can find them online, follow them on Facebook, or stop by the new center at Appleby 311.

 

 

 

 

Elementary education major finds a deeper understanding of marginalized communities through RJUS minor

Michael Kroymann is a senior Elementary Education Foundations major who is earning the Racial Justice in Urban Schooling (RJUS) minor to better support marginalized students and families, and gain a deeper understanding of the conditions that affect their lives. As a queer, non-binary individual Michael has a unique understanding of the important roles that empathy, trust, and understanding play in building community with groups often ignored by mainstream education.

What drove you to enroll in the RJUS minor program?

Understanding and empathy are central to the way I walk through the world, especially in my teaching practice. I felt it was essential for me to engage in coursework that expanded my knowledge of the students and families I interact with in metro-area schools. I felt that my major program did not offer enough content in that area, and I decided to pursue the RJUS minor to further engage with diversity and justice.

Which part of the program have you found the most valuable?

I think a fundamental part of the program is inward reflection. I truly believe that I am able to learn and better myself through reflection, and my coursework definitely supported this. I also found there to be a constant free exchange of ideas and experiences through conversation, which has been invaluable in furthering my education.

How was your experience with the faculty been?

The faculty involved in the RJUS have been such an important part of my experience. Never before have I felt so understood and supported in my classes. My interactions with faculty were all built upon a foundation of trust, empathy, and genuine care, qualities which are frequently hard to find in a university setting.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

Things are a little bit up in the air right now. I realized this year that I don’t feel able to support an entire classroom of my own at this stage of my life, so my plans have been totally revamped. I would still love to work with youth, and I am also really interested in nonprofit work and community organizations.

What do you hope to get out of the minor? How will it help you in your career path?

In completing the RJUS minor, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the world and develop skills that help me to engage critically with the institutions and conditions that affect the lives of marginalized communities. This will enable me work with diverse groups of people in a manner that is sensitive and responsive to their lived experiences.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

As a queer, non-binary individual, learning and working in academia is frequently a draining experience. I have felt invisible in so many of my classes, especially in the education courses. My time in the RJUS minor has never felt this way; I have always been welcomed and made to feel safe and valued as my whole self. This has been such a positive part of my undergraduate experience, and I am forever grateful.

Learn more about the Racial Justice in Urban Schooling minor, including how to apply.

TESL minor Aaron Nakamura is driven to support English-language learners with psychological trauma

Psychology major/TESL minor Aaron Nakamura wants to use his language teaching skills and psychology degree to help children learning English as a second language who need extra support.

What drove you to enroll in the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) minor program?

My goal is to help children in third world countries who are in need of both psychological and educational support. I enrolled in the TESL minor program to equip myself with the necessary skill set to support those children through language education.

I came here from Japan five years ago and it was every hard to learn the language and get acclimated to a new country. My friends helped me a lot, and I would like to pass on that help to children struggling with both language skills and psychological trauma.

How has your experience with the faculty been?

The faculty members in this program are very knowledgeable and supportive. While learning how to teach English, I had to improve my language skills because English is my second language. The faculty were always there to help guide me through my struggles as a non-native English speaker.

Which part of the program did you find the most valuable?

All of the requirement courses for this program are very well-structured. I gained fundamental ideas and knowledge about linguistics and had the opportunity to train as an educator through a service-learning practicum. I also learned actual techniques and knowledge about teaching ESL that allowed me to strengthen my teaching abilities. Plus, I expanded my intercultural understanding which allowed me to gain insights about the amount of resources that are available in different parts of the world. Our discussions made me want to be an individual that is able to make a difference in our world.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

I have enjoyed meeting and sharing experiences with people in the TESL minor program who have multicultural backgrounds. People in this program understand and appreciate cultural differences, which allowed me to fit into the environment and feel respected as an individual. I made valuable friendships with my classmates that I will cherish throughout my lifetime.

Find out more about the TESL minor and other programs in second language education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I staffer joins relief brigade in Puerto Rico, organizes to reopen schools

Sigal joined aid brigades to clear debris caused by hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Brad Sigal, a staff member in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, recently returned from an aid trip to Puerto Rico where he assisted the Puerto Rican Teacher’s Federation (FMPR) with their disaster relief work and educational advocacy to reopen public schools. He saw the devastation of hurricane Maria firsthand and witnessed the resilience of the communities one month after the hurricane hit while they were still dealing with power outages, food shortages, and a breakdown of infrastructure.

Sigal decided to go down to help after seeing the FMPR’s calls for help on Facebook. “They were organizing work brigades to clear roads and fix houses. I wanted to support the efforts,” he says.

The capital of San Juan, Sigal reported, was mostly without electricity and using generators to keep some homes and businesses electrified, including the international airport. The outlying cities were completely in the dark and still had roads covered in debris and homes with holes in the roofs or walls.

Sigal and FMPR president Mercedes Martinez.

Sigal met teachers and families who were concerned that schools still weren’t open a month after the hurricane. He helped the FMPR organize to reopen schools, a defense against growing fears that schools would be privatized in the wake of hurricane Maria in a similar turn of events that saw 7,000 teachers fired and public schools shut down and converted to charter schools after hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Many schools have opened since he returned from his visit, Sigal says, largely because of the political activism by teacher’s union and a legal injunction where they forced the Department of Education to give a tally of which schools not open and why. He explains that schools were remaining closed because officials said there was infrastructure damage, but people had been using the cafeterias and schools as relief centers and were holding up well in that capacity. “Saying that the schools are not in condition to reopen didn’t make sense,” Sigal said of the situation.

Around 100 schools are still not open 70 days after the hurricane and so the work continues to save those schools and get them reopened to the students.

Sigal noted that most teachers still decided to go to their closed schools and help families in the buildings in order to maintain a connection with the community and continue to work.

“ I was amazed by the teachers and others I met. In the face of having to deal with their own personal crises of not having housing or food or electricity, they were also battling political issues with the school,” Sigal recounted. “The ability to do all that incredible.”

 

 

Annie Mason writes op-ed challenging critics of racial justice education in Star Tribune

Annie Mason, Program Director of Elementary Teacher Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, published an op-ed in the Star Tribune as a counterpoint to Katherine Kersten’s article, “Racial identity policies are ruining Edina’s fabled schools,” on the Edina school district’s new “All for All” plan, which Kersten blames for lowered test results in Edina schools.

Kersten alleges the new plan shifts the  district leaders’ educational philosophy from “academic excellence for all” to ensuring “that students think correctly on social and political issues.” She argues that the new racial justice-geared agenda creates a hostile environment for students with “nonconforming views,” and does nothing to improve test scores or foster high academic performance in the district.

Mason challenged these ideas in her op-ed, ” Counterpoint: Edina schools: why it’s crucial to unlearn racism.” She discusses the way white privilege has shaped our country’s education system since its conception, the learning limitations placed on students of all races, and the importance of maintaining a dialogue about race in our schools. “[Students] know that to change the future, we have to reckon with the past,” Mason writes. “To unlearn racism, we have to be willing to face what it is, what it has created and how we are all implicated in it.”

Learn more about The Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s teacher education programs  and our commitment to equity in education.

 

C&I faculty and staff discuss racial justice in day-long retreat

Faculty and staff in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction kicked off the school year with their annual retreat, but the topics of the day were not the usual plans and announcements. Instead, the department sat down to discuss the departmental climate as it relates to race, bias, and diversity.

The conversations were facilitated by Samuel D. Museus, Director of the National Institute for Transformation and Equity at Indiana University, Bloomington and Kimberly Truong, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

“We hope that this will be a transformative experience and lead to an even stronger and more cohesive community within the department,” Museus wrote.

After the retreat, the staff and faculty are prepared to continue working on bringing topics of race and bias to the forefront and plan to address areas in the curriculum where equity can be more deeply interwoven into the instruction. “As as an outcome of the retreat, the Second Language Education program has begun process for systematic review of curriculum so that the goals of social equity, multilingualism and racial justice are highlighted throughout coursework and program planning,” notes Professor Kendall King.

Many in the department expressed optimism for the coming year after the constructive dialogues.Teaching Specialist Linda Buturian noted that “when we share our stories, when we feel heard, it makes things lighter.”

Learn more about the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s commitment to diversity and social justice.

 

C&I student, Vanessa Goodthunder, featured in “Legacy” magazine

Vanessa Goodthunder, and M.Ed. candidate in Social Studies Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, was profiled in the University of Minnesota’s Legacy magazine for her commitment to her Native American community on the Lower Sioux Indian reservation in southwestern Minnesota.

Goodthunder was inspired to earn her initial teaching license in social studies education because she noticed that even though many of the students in her school were Native American, none of the teachers were. She ultimately hopes to teach the Dakota language, which she has been studying on campus, and high school social studies in the Twin Cities or on the Lower Sioux reservation.

“Education really helped me thrive,” says Goodthunder. She hopes to inspire the next generation of American Indian students to speak their native language in order to preserve their heritage while reaching their potential as students. Read the full story in Legacy magazine.

Learn more about the M.Ed. and Initial Teaching License program in Social Studies education.  

Consider supporting the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s educational programs and initiatives to increase diversity in the teacher candidate pool in Minnesota.

C&I student, Fadumo Mohamed, wins CEHD Multicultural Recognition Award

Lori Helman, Fadumo Mohamed and her parents, Anthony Albecker, Vichet Chhuon

Fadumo Mohamed, a senior in the Elementary Education Foundations program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction received the CEHD Student Multicultural Recognition Award this year. The award is given to a candidate who has made outstanding multicultural efforts to the CEHD community in community outreach as part of their extracurricular or professional work.

Mohamed was nominated by her McNair Scholars program advisor, Lori Helman, on the strength of her many outreach activities. She worked as a literacy mentor in Pratt Community School as part of the America Reads program where she became interested in creating an effective mentoring program for Somali-American youth in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood.

The existing government programs designed to support positive extracurricular activities were transforming into programs to monitor youth for potential future terrorist threats. This was creating a divisive and mistrustful atmosphere in the community, so Mohamed urged the community school to not take the government funding for these programs that offered tutoring and instead to let her provide tutors with the support of the Young Muslims Collaborative (YMC).

In support of that effort she trained almost 40 mentors over two years that were paired with unmotivated or disconnected students. By training mentors who have had similar life experiences, the students are given emotional and strategic support for setting life goals. This is in contrast to programs that attempt to see these youth as potential deviants.

“Fadumo shares the importance of knowing who you are- the values of dual identity, dual language, and works to develop a curriculum that highlights this,” says Helman. “It has been my great honor to work alongside her and learn from her as she gives her full effort toward ensuring equity and positive identity formation for Somali Americans.”

Mohamed will enter the Master of Education and Initial Teaching License program in Elementary Education in the fall where she plans to continue her work towards engaging youth and creating a curriculum that responds to the needs of multicultural student communities.

Learn more about the elementary education programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

C&I Ph.D. student, Joubert, receives Interdisciplinary Dissertation Development award

Ezekiel Joubert, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction received the Interdisciplinary Dissertation Development scholarship from the Institute of Advanced Studies to support his dissertation research. The program is designed to give University of Minnesota graduate students in the social science and humanities fields the opportunity to workshop, test, and begin the proposal writing process.

Joubert’s dissertation looks at the effects of economic migration on black Americans and what role educational opportunity played in altering the routes of the descendants of the Great Migration. Joubert’s family was part of the Great Migration that settled in Southeastern Michigan in a small cluster of rural and semi-rural townships and small cities forged by industrialization and transformed by black migrants in search of economic opportunities and safety from the Jim Crow South. Years later, this area experienced a wave of intrastate migration due to deindustrialization and disinvestment in cities such as Detroit.

“As a descendant of the Great Migration and a child of parents who left Detroit, I noticed a number of challenges facing these black residents: increasing concerns over contaminated land and water, a loss of economic opportunity in semi-rural or rural areas and most important to my study, public school closures and mergers and school of choice which has forced families to choose between traveling long distances to get their children to school or to uproot their families completely,” Joubert said, which helped him focus his research of understanding the effects of requiring students, particularly children of color, to involuntary and voluntary cross racial, economic, political, and regional borders.

Joubert is advised by associate professor Tim Lensmire.

Learn more about the Ph.D. program in Culture and Teaching in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.