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Students can make a difference. At least that's what members of the Students for Asian Affairs, a two-year-old club for Asian students, said they have learned. And after one year, the students are finally achieving one of their goals -- a course that will examine Asian Americans' influence in American history. Starting in the fall semester, all students will be able to enroll in American Civilization 222 -- Asians in America: History, Culture and Contemporary Issues, taught by Jean Wu, who currently serves as dean and director of the division of general studies at Bryn Mawr College. College junior and SAA chairperson Phan Lam said Wu is highly respected and an expert in the Asian American field. Wu, who is currently teaching at Bryn Mawr, earned her doctorate and master degrees from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard and Brown universities. "There were definitely other candidates on the list," Lam said. "But we were very lucky to get her." Wu spoke to members of SAA at their meeting on Tuesday night and said the students would take an active role in the class because they are part of the history of Asians in the U.S. "It's a totally evolving, new field," Wu said as she perched on the edge of a chair in Ashurst lounge. "You are making an ethnic identity." Wu also stressed the importance of realizing that the course is about Asians whose lives have been shaped by living in America. "It's very different from the dominant experience, but it's part of the American experience," Wu added. Wu said the class would use one main text -- Ronald Takaki's Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans. She said the book would be supplemented with copies of articles and fictional books. "Fiction provides a learning about the human condition," Wu said. "It touches a different part of us." The American Civilizations department worked with members of SAA to implement the course. Lam said when SAA went to the Am Civ department to propose the course, the department was already planning a similar course. "American Civilization was very receptive," Lam said. "They did most of the work." Melvyn Hammarberg, undergraduate chair for the Am Civ Department, said they have been planning courses about the history of Asians, Native American, blacks and Latinos in the U.S. "It's part of a whole series of courses we would like to see developed in the department," Hammarberg said yesterday. But he added that proposed budget cuts may delay the formation of other courses. Hammarberg said the course should appeal to a wide spectrum of people and anticipates a positive response to the class. "We're going to do everything in our power to continue the course," Hammarberg said.

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