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When actor Kalpen Modi - more commonly known as Kal Penn - started teaching at Penn, students were bound to take notice.

Now, his class has attracted interest in a smaller University department: Asian American Studies.

Enrollment in ASAM classes has increased in number as a result of Modi's appointment to the department faculty, program administrator Fariha Khan said.

This increase in enrollment is due in part to the unusually large number of students allowed to take Modi's class, ASAM 109: Images of Asian Americans in the Media.

"Professor Modi's class is capped at 120 students -- much larger than our usual limit of 20 to 30 students per class," Khan said.

"We wanted to allow as many students as possible to take advantage of this opportunity without making the class too large to prevent discussion," she added.

College junior Rahima Dosani, an Asian American studies minor, said she hopes Modi's presence will continue to "have a similar effect on enrollment in the future."

And proof can be seen in his own students, who say they may explore the department further.

"I never would have taken another ASAM class if I hadn't heard about this one," said College freshman Carol Gianessi, who is enrolled in Modi's class. "It opened up my eyes to the discipline of ASAM studies."

Dosani added that Modi has also lent his presence to a number of campus-wide events affiliated with the ASAM department.

A number of the guest lecturers scheduled to speak in Modi's class have also agreed to hold campus-wide events to allow the entire Penn community to learn more about Asian Americans in the media.

Last Sunday, Modi held a Q&A; panel discussion with Asian-American activist and comedian Margaret Cho.

Later this month, he will also have his own Q&A; to encourage a dialogue with students.

It is important to remember, though, that Modi came to Penn - not vice versa, Khan said. Among the many universities at which Modi has guest lectured, the fact remains that he chose to come to Penn because of the strength of the ASAM program and its faculty.

"Although his presence on campus is sure to spark ASAM interest, it is important to commemorate the sustained effort and dedication of our current ASAM core faculty," added Dosani.

"Modi's presence will hopefully act as a catalyst to get other Penn students interested in Asian-American issues and in the other ASAM classes taught by the core faculty during the year," she continued.

"I hope that Kal Penn's contribution as a lecturer at Penn can at least begin the dialogue on the importance of having Asian-American studies and other ethnic studies available at all universities," said College junior Benjamin Alisuag, another one of Modi's students and the chairman of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition.

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