APIDA 101 offers students an outlet to talk about issues in their communities


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

APIDA 101 provides Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American students an opportunity to discuss culture, history, and stereotypes in a relaxed format.

Gwen Setia, Reporter

APIDA 101 offers a space for Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American-identifying students to connect and learn more about their identities.

The six-session program, which began virtually Feb. 3 and will continue through March 3, is offered each quarter by Multicultural Student Affairs. The program focuses on allowing APIDA students to learn more about the history of their community in the U.S. and reflect on the issues that continue to affect them today. 

The program, which began in fall 2019 and has run for six quarters, is facilitated by Assistant Director of Social Justice Education Qiu Fogarty and MSA Assistant Director Christine Munteanu, the latter of which built the program and has led it every quarter since. 

“Sometimes there’s a gap between understanding your cultural or ethnic identity and connecting to the larger, politicized, racial identity,” Munteanu said. “The hope was that the program could help bridge this gap by bringing students together to dialogue about their experiences while also learning a little bit about the community’s history.” 

Students in the program meet weekly with Munteanu and Fogarty, and topics include APIDA leadership throughout history, the student hunger strike in 1995 for an Asian American Studies Program at NU and stereotypes against the community.

Munteanu said cohort-based programs like this are valuable in building a space where students can be vulnerable and feel supported by people around them. 

“I hope as folks are feeling isolated or confused about their identity, it’s a space where they can find community and find maybe not answers, but maybe the same people asking the same questions as they are,” Munteanu said.

During Fall Quarter’s run of the program, students also spoke with history Prof. Ji-Yeon Yuh, director of the Asian American Studies Program, who discussed the importance of coalition-building between marginalized communities. 

Fogarty, who is in their second quarter facilitating APIDA 101, said leading the program has allowed them to learn more about their own APIDA identity as well. 

“To be in a space where you’re really equally learning from the students that you’re also trying to share information with is such a gift,” Fogarty said. 

The format allows students to get to know each other and become more comfortable in their environment before addressing sensitive topics. Weinberg sophomore Sohyun Lee, who participated in APIDA 101 last quarter, said the program’s close-knit cohort allowed her to feel comfortable sharing her experiences. 

“It was such a comfy atmosphere, compared to other competitive, contentious atmospheres that I’m used to,” Lee said. “It was very helpful that we shared all of our stories in the beginning, and that we actively listened for other people’s opinions. The vibe was very comforting.”

The program also gave students an avenue to express their emotions about the racial discrimination and microaggressions they face as students at NU. Lee, who is a math major and takes various STEM courses, said she often faces the stereotypes in her day-to-day life. 

For Lee, who had never heard of the model minority myth, APIDA 101 finally gave her the words to describe a phenomenon she felt her entire life. Ultimately, Lee said participating in APIDA 101 also showed her that she’s not alone in many of her experiences. 

“I learned that it’s not just me who’s going through the experience. It’s so much shared between members of the community as well,” she said. “Everyone should be aware of it, and they should be really careful not to go along with the stereotypes.”

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Twitter: @GwenSetia

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