Around Campus

Fostering understanding through education, organizing and advocacy

Carolina's Asian American Center is a space for Carolina students, faculty and staff to learn about Asian American identity and culture through resources and programming, like visiting scholars and guest lecturers.

Students sitting at a table.
First-year student Alicia Bao (left) and sophomore Divya Aikat spend time at the Asian American Center on April 19, 2023, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The UNC Asian American Center was many years in the making, and in just three years since its official launch, it has already become a crucial support and resource for many of our Tar Heels.

The center was founded in 2020, thanks to the work of a group of Carolina students, alumni, staff, faculty and administrators. The center opened a physical space in 2021 in the Carriage House at 215 W. Cameron Ave to serve as a central hub to host events such as lectures and discussions and is available for students to use during regularly scheduled open hours.

While the center’s director, Heidi Kim, is conducting a fellowship this semester, Kumi Silva, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Science’s Department of Communication, is serving as interim director alongside associate director Krupal Amin and program coordinator Marcus Donie to continue to build on the center‘s mission to cultivate an understanding of Asian American peoples, cultures and histories through education and advocacy.

Continue reading to learn more about the Asian American Center from Silva.

What is the mission of the Asian American Center?

The center has an education-driven mission, and whether we are doing programming for students, for the community or for faculty, the goal is always to foster a critical understanding of Asian American peoples, cultures, and histories through education, organizing and advocacy. We contribute to the University’s commitment to excellence by expanding access to interdisciplinary learning and preparing the next generation of leaders for an increasingly diverse society.

Why are you personally involved in the Asian American Center, and what keeps you motivated to do this work?

Asian American history is American history, and I want to be part of making people aware of the complexity of and the contributions that the Asian American community has made to the United States. This history, while well established and documented in other parts of the country, is especially absent in the South, even though there is a rich history of Asian immigration and migration to southern states, including North Carolina.

What are your hopes for the future of the Asian American Center?

I hope it continues to grow and expand at UNC-Chapel Hill, with academic programming that supports students’ knowledge production and understanding of the Asian American experience.

How can Tar Heels get involved in the center?

Come visit the center during open hours. Email us. We are always happy for everyone to engage with us to see everyone. We also have a Student Engagement Project Incubator at the AAC that we encourage students to apply to with specific, focused projects. Get on our listserv and reach out with ideas of things that you’d like to see us have as part of our programming.