Mission-Centered Engagement with Asian American Student Veterans
Peter Nien-chu Kiang,
University of Massachusetts Boston, US
Dr. Peter Nien-chu Kiang (江念祖) is Professor and Director of the Asian American Studies Program in the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development (SGISD) at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he has taught since 1987. Peter’s research, teaching, and advocacy in both K-12 and higher education with Asian American immigrant/refugee students and communities have been supported by the National Academy of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the Massachusetts Association for Bilingual Education, and others. At UMass Boston, he has received both the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Distinguished Service Award. Nationally, he received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Educational Research Association's Special Interest Group: Research on the Education of Asian and Pacific Americans in 2013 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association for Asian American Studies in 2014. Peter served for six years as chair of the Massachusetts Advisory Committee for the US Commission on Civil Rights and eight years as co-president of the Chinese Historical Society of New England. He holds a B.A., Ed.M., and Ed.D. from Harvard University and is a former Community Fellow in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.
Shirley S. Tang, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Asian American Studies Program of the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at University of Massachusetts Boston. Her areas of research and teaching expertise are: war, gender and migration; race and development; Southeast Asian cultural and community studies; and Chinese diasporic pop culture. She has nearly two dozen publications in print, having published across multiple fields such as: research methods and theory; ethnic studies and community studies; public health and health disparities; political science and electoral empowerment; migration studies and critical refugee studies; law and public policy; education and the scholarship of teaching. She has contributed to projects supported by the National Endowment for Humanities, the National Institutes of Health, the Corporation for National & Community Service, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and others. She is co-principal investigator for UMass Boston’s current five-year, $1.75M Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Part F grant through 2021, and she led a U.S. Department of Education-funded collaborative project for a network of AANAPISIs in California and Massachusetts focusing on digital storytelling, student development and college success. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from SUNY Buffalo and a B.A. degree in English with Honors from Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Matthew Seto is a US Marine Corps veteran who served from 2001 to 2005 and was part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, including the invasion. He has held multiple leadership roles in both Asian American veterans organizations and Boston Chinatown civic organizations, including his service as Commander of the American Legion Chinatown Post 328 in Boston from 2013 to 2015. He formerly served as Outreach Coordinator of Veterans Resources for the Office of Veterans Affairs at UMass Boston, and currently is HR Coordinator of Human Resources for the Sloan School of Management at MIT. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in Business Management and a program-of-study in Asian American Studies.
This article draws qualitatively on the experiences, reflections, and expressions of Asian American student veterans through Asian American Studies courses and activities the authors have led in the decade between 2006 and 2016, at an urban public research university that is federally designated as an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution, and recognized annually among four-year universities as “best for vets.” Beginning with a brief introduction to Asian American military service historically and currently, we note the lack of research and resource materials available nationally that is informed by or responsive to the backgrounds, perspectives, and needs of Asian American student veterans in college. We then provide a synthesis of rich documentary evidence based on Asian American student veterans’ voices, to illustrate the value of Asian American Studies curricular strategies and pedagogical approaches, particularly through digital storytelling, that create integrative contexts for their holistic connections and contributions as Asian Americans, as veterans, and as university students. Beyond the classroom and campus, we also offer concrete examples of community-centered connections through Asian American Studies that enable Asian American student veterans to engage with public sites and local civic organizations that share significant legacies of Asian American veterans’ leadership and service across generations.