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Vol 56 No. 17 | Dec. 2004
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Aquarium GroupCSULB Receives 2004 Award of Excellence from Aquarium of the Pacific

Asian and Asian American Studies at CSULB recently received the 2004 Award of Excellence from Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific in recognition of its contributions to promoting Asian culture.

Department Chair John Tsuchida, also a member of the California Bar, applauded the award presented during November's Autumn Festival. The trophy is on display in the department's office.

“It was an honor to receive such an award of excellence based on our contributions to promoting Asian culture,” he said. “It is gratifying for our faculty because sometimes what we do is not well known outside academia. I was pleasantly surprised that the Aquarium of the Pacific knew about our department and the job we do. It is a source of gratification for us.”

Tsuchida expressed his pleased surprise at the aquarium's invitation for his department to participate in the Autumn Festival along with representatives from the Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities.

“Awards like this offer a good opportunity to establish a cooperative relationship with the community through such organizations as the Aquarium of the Pacific,” he said.

CSULB is one of fewer than a dozen universities in the nation that offers a B.A. degree in Asian American Studies. “Furthermore, there are many universities that offer courses in Chinese or Japanese to satisfy language requirements, but not many campuses are willing to invest the financial resources to offer degrees in Chinese or Japanese,” he said. “Plus, I think part of the reason we received this recognition is that we have a long record of excellence here. Asian Studies has been part of CSULB since the late1960s, and the department represents a commitment by Provost Gary Reichard to offering instruction in 'less commonly taught' languages. Language courses like ours cannot survive long without administration support and we have that at CSULB.”

Another landmark in Asian and Asian American Studies is the inauguration in the fall of 2004 of a series of courses in “less commonly taught” languages, such as Korean, Business Chinese, and Heritage Vietnamese, offered in collaboration with California State University, Fullerton.

These courses are available for credit to both CSULB and CSUF students, as well as to community members who may enroll through Open University. “The courses will prepare international business majors for meeting new challenges in East and Southeast Asia,” said Tsuchida. “Prospective businesspeople will benefit greatly from their mastery of language skills.”

Tsuchida sees the award as representing how Asian and Asian American Studies is staying ahead of the curve in reflecting the growing role of Asia in the world economy. “CSULB is located ideally between L.A. and Orange counties as well as near a major Pacific Rim port,” he explained. “There is a large Asian American population in Southern California and CSULB has a large representation of Chinese-American students in particular. The campus population of Chinese-American students has increased every year. There is a demand for Chinese Studies and CSULB supplies that demand.”

The key to maintaining CSULB's dominance in Asian Studies is keeping abreast of what the community wants. “We are always looking at new things to meet the changing needs of our students,” Tsuchida said. “When I first arrived on campus nine and a half years ago, the department was offering instruction in Japanese and Chinese. Now we offer classes in Tagalog, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hindi and Korean. We have a very important mission to accomplish because there is so much transnational linkage between Asia and the West.”  




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