Over the past couple of months, Aida has been a part of the NCAAT team as a youth intern. She’s done so much during her time here, with one of her most notable accomplishments being the personal project she worked on throughout the internship. Her personal project, “Asian x Black Solidarity and the South: Past and Present,” was an Asian American studies toolkit targeted towards high school students. She got the chance to talk to educators, activists, and scholars about important history, while also coming up with ways to implement more ethnic studies into schools’ curriculums.
Now, as their internship comes to an end, Aida reflects on their experience at NCAAT. Here’s what she had to say:
Why did you choose the personal project that you worked on?
Asian American and ethnic studies was something I had never gotten the chance to really experience in my K-12 education. In fact, when I was in middle and high school, I thought of my interest in Asian American history as selfish due to the lack of events covered within the state and country’s curriculum. That’s why I wanted to create a project where students could have an easy, accessible way to advocate for Asian American history and identity in their own classrooms. Or at least have the resources in order to educate themselves through clubs and organizations.
What was something surprising that you learned about Asian x Black solidarity?
While doing research, the topic on which I found the most material was actually the topic which I knew about the least: Asian Americans and the Jim Crow South. The Jim Crow South is a topic that has been covered in my classes since elementary school, but until this project, I had never really understood where Asian Americans fit during that period of segregation. Learning about Chinese Americans in the Mississippi Delta or South Asians among Black communities was really eye-opening and it made me realize how this systemic oppression is something that could be easily incorporated but is often missed in class curriculums.
How do you hope people will use your toolkit?
I hope students, teachers, educators, administrators, etc., would be able to use the resources in this document to teach Asian American and ethnic studies in their classrooms. Whether it be using entire lesson plans, recommending books in the beginning of class, or examining primary resources from the toolkit, I hope that this toolkit will be able to showcase local, important, and relevant examples of Asian and Black solidarity within classrooms.
How would you describe the internship to anyone interested in applying in the future?
It’s a great opportunity to learn more about working in a nonprofit space while getting to build relationships and be supported by NCAAT staff members. There is a lot of flexibility in terms of when, how, and what you are working on. For example, my supervisor was able to connect me to local educators and help me with not only my toolkit, but also skills like outreach and networking.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience engaging with the Asian American community?
Being able to learn and interact with the Asian American community has been very rewarding. Especially as a youth in North Carolina, it is rare to have these spaces in which we are encouraged and safe to explore our own ideas and identity. This internship was able to give me more confidence and space in this world!
About the author:
Aida (she/they) was born and raised on Tuscarora land (Cary, NC). When not a summer intern at NCAAT, she enjoys organizing, cooking, Miyazaki movies, art, writing, gift-giving, and spending time with loved ones.
NCAAT’s blog is a chance for NCAAT staff and community members to write about topics relating to their personal passions, interests, and the Asian American community in North Carolina. The views expressed in NCAAT’s community blog posts are not endorsed by NCAAT nor representative of NCAAT’s official stances or views.