I am putting together an Asian American student success program and then teaching a basic skills reading and writing class for that program focusing on Asian American literature in the Fall. Soooo excited. My undergrad major was in English literature with a minor in Asian American studies, and my thesis was on Ethnic literature (I wrote my senior thesis on Louise Erdrich and Leslie Marmon Silko’s works).
Then, I went to grad school in education.
Meanwhile, I was starting a career in high tech, mainly working in recruiting and HR.
I went back to school for my MFA in creative writing.
And it seemed that my educational background would never jibe with my career. Until NOW. Do you know how ecstatic it feels for my inner life to make SENSE in the external world?!
I’m putting together a book list for my class–and am having way too much fun with the possibilities. It is a basic skills writing and reading class, so I have to keep my ambition in check and in sync with the reality of student abilities. So there will be no reading of 2 novels in one semester.
I decided awhile ago that I would teach Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese–it is a graphic novel that would be accessible to basic skills students with a theme relevant to Asian American students and yet not compromise on complexity of issues and analysis for young adults.
The thing is, I don’t want to hang the class’s hat on one work. I wanted to come up with other pieces of literature–and I searched my head for a theme (if not for the students, at least for me) that could run throughout the chosen pieces of work. In a moment of epiphany today browsing through the bookshelves of my neighborhood bookstore, I spotted Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, another great graphic novel (yes, Iran is West Asian).
I would center the class around those two graphic novels (perhaps just excerpts from Persepolis to lighten the reading load–reality check again). Yessss. I plan on having a mini-reader or make copies of shorter works like poetry and essays and perhaps a short story or two. But now that I have my two main works, I am going to happily search through works by other Asian Americans reflecting other Asian American ethnicities that might enlighten Yang’s and Satrapi’s graphic novels.
There is a big population of Mien students. It makes me sad that I cannot find works by or about the Mien American community.