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Educators gather at FDU for program to learn how to teach Asian American and Pacific Islander history

The Teach Asian American Stories Fellowship began its second cohort on Wednesday morning with eight new New Jersey-based fellows.

Joti Rekhi

May 9, 2024, 2:35 AM

Updated 13 days ago

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Educators from across New Jersey came together at Farleigh Dickinson University to learn about important stories about Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. It was part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
New Jersey is home to the only fellowship designed to empower educators to teach students and other teachers about AAPI history, as a teacher shortage and development initiatives become widespread across the nation.
The Teach Asian American Stories Fellowship began its second cohort on Wednesday morning with eight new New Jersey-based fellows. They were joined by many other educators for a one-day workshop on the topic. The initiative was created in response to the statewide AAPI history curriculum mandate that went into effect for the 2022-2023 school year.
Grace Chun, the curriculum coordinator for the Cresskill School District, was one of the more than 20 people in attendance.
"I didn't read stories or books and was not taught the history of some of the things I'm learning right now, which is a big eye-opening experience," said Chun.
The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Khyati Joshi, a well-known academic in the field, widely admired by those in attendance. The event was a partnership between Farleigh Dickinson University, the Institute for Teaching Diversity and Social Justice and AAPI New Jersey.
"I'm here to build a more perfect union. And in order to do that, we have to learn the truth," said Joshi. "We need to be able to tell our stories as Asian Americans, in our voices. I need teachers to be able to help students to be able to do that."
The eight fellows will continue their learning until April 2025. They will be tasked with then imparting their knowledge to other educators across the state.
Keri Giannotti, a U.S. history teacher at Bloomfield High School, is one of the fellows.
"I love that we have this organization here in New Jersey that supports us, empowers us, and gives us the space to have the hard conversations," said Giannotti.
Roslyne Shiao, the co-executive director of AAPI NJ, said the Department of Education has been supportive of their programming. However, she says her organization has had to take matters into its own hands instead of waiting for funding for some of the initiatives they've created.
"We're doing the fundraising to be able to fund all of these resources and all of this [programming on our own]," said Shiao. "Because we care about our students at the end of the day. And we know that they need this knowledge. And they need to see themselves in the textbook. We would like to have more support though to make a bigger impact and to go even further and deeper with this impact."
Last year's cohort included fellows from Camden, Monmouth and Hunterdon counties. They traveled to Bergen County in order to attend in-person learning opportunities. AAPI would like to partner with institutions throughout the state in order to meet students in the communities in which they are employed.
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