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University of Iowa News Release

April 14, 2004

Asian American Heritage Events Planned For April

The University of Iowa College of Education Diversity Committee and campus Asian American Coalition are sponsoring several events in April leading up to Asian American Heritage Month, which is officially celebrated in May, including film screenings, lectures and a picnic.

The events, which are free and open to the public, are:

* 7 p.m. Monday, April 19, Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) Indiana Room: Screening of the movie "Debut," which tells the story of Ben (Dante Brasco), whose desire to go to art school is so strong that he sells his valuable comic book collection to help finance his first year's tuition. The film, directed by Filipino and Vietnamese American Gene Cajayon, follows Ben's struggle with the various and sometimes-competing aspects of his life, including his home, his friends, his art and his father. This is one of the first theatrical motion pictures to celebrate the Filipino American experience.

* 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, IMU Terrace Room: Screening of the movie "Who Killed Vincent Chin," followed by a discussion moderated by Evelyn Ho, a graduating Ph.D. student in communications. This award-winning documentary, produced by Renee Tajima-Peˆa and directed by Christine Choy, provides a glimpse into a stark confrontation of racism in working-class America by examining the brutal death in 1982 of a 27-year-old Chinese-American man named Vincent Chin. Chin was celebrating his last days of bachelorhood at a Detroit bar when he got in an argument with Ron Ebens, a supervisor at Chrysler Motors. According to witnesses, Ebens hurled ethnic insults at Chin, blaming him for the loss of jobs in the then-depressed American auto industry. Pursuing Chin outside, Ebens, aided by his stepson Mike Nitz, bludgeoned the young man to death with a baseball bat. In the ensuing trial, the assailants were placed on a three-year probation and fined $3,000. The film includes interviews with people involved in the case, as well as newspaper and television coverage. This tragic story is interwoven with an analysis of the American auto industry's collapse because of pressure from Japanese imports.

* 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 21: Chivy Sok, deputy director of the UI Center for Human Rights, will present a lecture, "The Asian American Journey: Some Challenges Ahead," about the Asian American community and political involvement.

* 11 a.m. to noon Thursday, April 22: William M. Liu, an assistant professor in the college's Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, will speak on "Understanding the Asian American Student: History, Culture and Stereotypes." Liu will provide an overview of Asian American identity and the problematic notion of the model minority myth as it concerns and affects future educators and their students. The event will take place in the Lindquist Center's Jones Commons.

* Noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 22: College of Education Diversity Committee Spring Picnic, Lindquist Center courtyard. During the picnic this year's recipients (one faculty member and one staff member) of the Audrey Qualls Commitment to Diversity Award will be named. The award was created in honor of a professor in educational testing and measurement who died in late 2003 at the age of 47.

Two other events will take place during the week of celebration. On Monday, April 19, the Asian American Coalition will launch the premier issue of a new Asian American publication "DeOrientAsian." Edited by Hieu Pham, a student in the UI College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the publication's goals (as suggested by its name) are to deconstruct, or "de-orient," the Orientalism of Asian Americans; to promote appreciation and acceptance of cultural, intellectual, political, racial and sexual orientation diversity on campus; increase awareness of Asian American issues among students, staff, and faculty; provide an outlet for expression among
Asian American students; and create an overall positive discourse about diversity within the community. The paper will be published once a semester.

Also on April 19, and throughout the week, the college Diversity Committee will make available in the Lindquist Center's Curriculum Lab a bibliography of Asian American books.

For more information about the events, contact Rossina Z. Liu, graduate assistant and member of the College of Education Diversity Committee, at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,; Program: Rossina Z. Liu,