Poet. Prof. Life.: Allan Aquino

By Romeo Oscar Cascolan
FROM: 700 Magazine

img-0038-4x3_3The inclusive mindset of the American dream makes the United States a welcoming destination for the variety of cultures that the world has to offer. As a Filipino who immigrated to the United States in 2000 and earned my American citizenship in 2018, I can personally attest to the opportunity within this country; as a result, I am more aware of the struggles and hardships that people endure in the hopes of leading a better life in the United States. The field of ethnic studies focuses on understanding the undeniable impact that these immigrants make on this country. The people involved in these studies may come from vastly different backgrounds, but their goal is always the same: to build upon the principles of freedom and independence that unite all Americans.

One person seeking to understand the history of Asians in America is Allan Aquino, a Filipino-American professor at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). As a professor of Asian-American studies, he strives to empower his students into making a difference in their country’s future. Allan is passionate about his personal work in writing and poetry, and knowledgeable about his professional work in academia and education. He is someone who has studied ethnic histories extensively, graduating from CSUN with a bachelor’s degree in Asian-American Historical Studies and from UCLA with a master’s degree in Asian-American Studies. Professor Aquino himself was a trailblazer in academia, being only the second person in Cal State Northridge history to pursue a degree in Asian-American studies. As a result, he was a special major who had to develop his own curriculum – and he used this freedom and ability to develop a proactive and interactive approach to learning that he continues to utilize as a professor.

​These interactions were made possible by his fundamental desire to truly understand himself. However, that did not mean focusing solely on the history and culture of Asians in America. He also took classes in Chicano studies, American Indian studies, pan-African studies, and Gender and Women’s studies, describing his curriculum as a “synthesis of the greatest hits of American disciplines, history, culture, sociology, and literature.”

“My intention was not to pursue just this ethnocentric kind of approach, but to first study my own history,” Allan states. “And then in doing that, understanding how I connect to everybody else.” His philosophy of open-mindedness is necessary to embrace not only the diversity that the United States is home to, but also the variety of cultures that reside in Asia. The continent is vast and there are many differences between Asians that need to be acknowledged, respected, and embraced. For example, Japanese culture is not the same as Chinese or Korean culture; Indian culture is not the same as Indonesian or Malaysian culture. However, realizing these differences is the first step to bridging the perceived gaps between them. Read Rest of Article Here

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