Ethnic studies is important to me because it is a critical lens with which to understand the US, and really, the world. Ethnic studies encompasses the history and narratives of communities that are too often left out of our textbooks, and this worldview is especially important in the face of this current administration.

I am now working in the California State Capitol, and the few Ethnic Studies classes I took during my undergrad help me to contextualize some of the complex issues and communities in the state. I believe Ethnic Studies is a vital course of study for future leaders in the country, and will become more important as the U.S. continues to diversify.

Itzel Vasquez-Rodriguez ’17

As a South Asian woman growing up in largely homogenous Vermont, there were little mentions of Asian America in my high school courses, outside of brief references to Chinese labor on the railroads and Japanese internment…Taking Professor Kim’s class showed me the depths to which API individuals have been a part of the fabric of this continent for decades…Within my concentration in Sociology and Government… there has been almost no mention of the Asian American community and its unique set of needs. The lack…has prevented me from building the knowledge I need to advocate on behalf of my community after graduation, as an aspiring lawyer and policy-maker. In my opinion, this situation perpetuates long-running cycles of disproportionately low API representation in politics, government, law, and media, as we never have a chance to understand our own story.

Avni Nahar ’17

Even more so than with the Women, Gender, and Sexuality courses I’ve taken, being able to participate in rigorous classroom discussions on Asian American scholarship and issues has been a fundamental and pivotal experience in my undergraduate career…Exposure to Ethnic Studies in general has reshaped my navigation of the world because of its insistence on the field not as an identity-obsessed subsidiary to traditional academic disciplines but as a distinct framework, lens, and analytic… [It] has concretized and affirmed the importance of Asian American studies through the presence of Asian American scholars on Harvard’s campus, without whose time, encouragement, and support I would have never reached the point where I stand now.

Ashley Zhou ’17