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Michael Ego receives SFF grant

Michael EgoProfessor Michael Ego has received a UConn Scholarship Facilitation Fund for his project, A Pilot Study: Measurement of Effectiveness of Baseball Reminiscence Program for Persons with Dementia in Cos Cob, CT.

An article in UConn Today entitled, “Talking Baseball Assists Aging Adults with Dementia” features Professor Michael Ego’s work on baseball reminiscence for adults with dementia.

Michael Ego op-ed: Showing remorse for Executive Order 9066

On April 12, 2017, The Stamford Advocate published the Op-Ed “Showing remorse for Executive Order 9066” by UConn professor Michael Ego. The article reflects of the exhibit entitled “Images of Internment: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II” at the FDR museum and library in Hyde Park, New York. 

Recently, I visited the Franklin D. Roosevelt Museum and Library for the first time – located in Hyde Park, New York.  I had been told that an exhibit describing the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was on display.

My first reaction to hearing this information was “I wonder how the museum was going to explain President Roosevelt’s decision to incarcerate 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry?”  On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that forced all Japanese Americans on the West Coast out of their homes and livelihoods and moved to concentration camps in ten different locations throughout the United States.   Forty-one years later (1983), a Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concluded that Executive Order 9066 was the result of “racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership,” with the latter clearly pointing to President Roosevelt.

So, I walked into the Museum with trepidation and anxiety, knowing that my late father was one of those who were incarcerated – in prison without due process, a cornerstone of the Constitution of the United States.  I was anticipating a small exhibit that would not match prior exhibitions that I had attended at the Smithsonian in Washington, and several on the West Coast.  To my surprise, the exhibit area was extensive and occupied about one-third of the FDR Museum (the other areas being permanent displays of President Roosevelt’s historic life and achievements).

As I approached the “starting point” of the exhibition, I saw a picture of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.  In the photograph, Mrs. Roosevelt is standing and talking with several internees at the Gila River internment camp in Arizona.  The description of the photograph indicates that Mrs. Roosevelt had been opposed to Executive Order 9066, but could not convince her husband to think otherwise.   She wanted to demonstrate to the internees that she was empathetic to their situation, and thus she made the trip to Arizona.

Next to the photograph, there is a mounted placard.  It states that President Roosevelt’s decision to sign Executive Order 9066 was a judgment in error.   I assumed that this statement was made on behalf of the FDR Museum, which is operated by the Library Trustees.  I had to find out for sure.  I approached one of the docents and asked him.  He informed me that the Trustees felt it was an appropriate time to share with the American public the civil liberties that were violated during World War II, because of Executive Order 9066.

Underneath the placard, there is a book where visitors can offer comments about the exhibit.  I leafed through some of the pages, and several people wrote, “This cannot happen again.  We need to learn from the mistakes of the past.”  I wrote the following on an empty page:  “As the son of an internee, when my father first shared his story of the incarceration of him and his fellow Americans, I was incredulous.  What? Why?  Standing here today at the FDR Museum, I am very thankful for the museum publicly acknowledging the error made by President Roosevelt in 1942.  The educational opportunity this exhibit offers to visitors is priceless.  My father would be pleased the FDR Museum is sharing a period of history that must be understood by all Americans, and that there is dignity in showing remorse of a wrongdoing.”

The exhibit entitled, Images of Internment:  The Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, will continue at the FDR Museum until December 31.  The museum is about a 90-minute drive from Stamford.

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Michael M. Ego is Professor of Human Development and Family Studies/Asian and Asian American Studies/History at the University of Connecticut, Stamford.  He teaches the course, Japanese Americans and World War II.

AAASI Courtesy Faculty MICHAEL EGO Urges Continued Investment in UConn Amid Budgetary Constraints

On April 23, 2017 the Stamford Advocate published an Op-ed article co-written by University of Connecticut Professors Preston A. Britner and Michael M. Ego entitled “The Dividends of a Public Research University.”

Noting the rise of UConn among the Top 20 of 133 U.S. public research universities, they primarily point to the work that dedicated faculty engage in toward research, teaching, service, and outreach.

Professors engage in empirical and secondary research projects that challenge assumptions, produce innovative new technologies, and make the world a better place. UConn faculty are also committed to both undergraduate and graduate teaching and mentoring the future scholars and professionals among the student body. Service comes in the form of campus governance, contributions to professional societies around the globe, reviews for journals and grant panels that advance knowledge across disciplines, testimony that informs policies at state and national levels, and public engagement that brings scholars and communities together to jointly address society’s most pressing issues.

Amid daily reports of an increasingly widening budgetary deficit for the state of Connecticut, Britner and Ego urge continued support for public higher education institutions such as UConn, for the benefit of the students who we all hope to benefit by as tomorrow’s engaged citizens and leaders.

2017 Hira Jain Scholarships Awarded to Undergraduates FOTIMA and ZUKHRA PULATOVA and Graduate Student KOYEL KHAN

Asian/Asian American Studies Institute Awards $500 each to Undergraduate students FOTIMA PULATOVA and ZUKHRA PULATOVA and $1000 to Graduate student KOYEL KHAN as the Recipients of the 2017 HIRA JAIN SCHOLARSHIP

The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is extraordinarily indebted to Dr. Hira and Mrs. Sunita Jain of Glastonbury, CT for their generosity in establishing the permanent endowment that funds this competitive scholarship, awarded since 2004.

Profiles of the Award Winners

Entry 58 in the KEYWORDS for Asian American Studies (NYU Press, 2015) elaborates on “transnationalism” as a term that is both prominently used and contested in the various disciplines that cover the social sciences, anthropology, sociology, international law, economics, feminist studies, and cultural studies. Encapsulating the ways goods, people and ideas move and resettle, the transnational paradigm “recognizes the intricate mapping of social experience across axes of time and space and allows for a broader understanding of the ways cultures and identities circulate both nationally and transnationally.”

FOTIMA and ZUKHRA PULATOVA are twin sisters who are each majoring in Molecular Cell Biology with identical dreams of becoming physicians in the United States. They are inspired by their grandmother who practiced medicine in an impoverished region of Uzbekistan and motivated by the sacrifices of their mother, from whom they were separated for seven years in order to immigrate to Brooklyn, NY after the economic and political upheavals in their home country following the collapse of the USSR. Not able to have her advanced degrees recognized in the US, Fotima and Zukhra’s mother took on low paying yet crucially needed jobs as a domestic worker.

Arriving in the US, the first order of business for Fotima and Zukhra was to learn the English language which both unequivocally say is more difficult than their native Uzbek, Russian, and Mandarin (having been sent to Northwest China to study when their grandmother became unable to continue to care for them). With supportive professors and classmates at Manchester Community College, they excelled in ESL and earned their Associates Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences before successfully transferring to UConn. Both express tremendous appreciation for the social support and academic preparation they received at MCC.

At the University of Connecticut, they are active members/participants of the Phi-Theta Kappa Honor Society, Alpha Mu Gamma Honor Society, American Medical Student Association, and the Asian American Cultural Center – all while maintaining GPAs above 3.55, receiving the Academic Support Center’s Student Achievement Award, and working part-time as caregivers for Euro-American Connections & Homecare to help pay for tuition. If at first they both experienced “transfer shock” in the large and impersonal classes at the university, they are now eager to engage their fellow students about their Central Asian experiences and culture – even as they carefully negotiate what is possible.

“Everybody smiles here … we were discouraged from smiling for no particular reason. UConn students are very positive, free and open with opinions … opinions were also discouraged before we came here. Here, we can disagree … we are not afraid to share.”

There is absolutely no doubt Fotima and Zukhra Pulatova will each work diligently to realize their respective dreams to practice medicine; they will doubtless also share the credit for their achievements with their mother. We wish them all the best, wherever fate and opportunity take them.

KOYEL KHAN is a doctoral candidate in the department of Sociology who is in the process of collecting data by conducting ethnographic interviews in Kolkata, India and New York City for her dissertation, tentatively titled “Between Nationalism and Neoliberal Globalization: The Practices of Indian Classical Dance” that is a transnational and interdisciplinary analysis of the factors that shape cultural consumption, production and practice. Historically used to reinforce difference and superiority in the struggle against British colonialism and currently signifies being cultured and authentically Indian, she will specifically investigate how people associate with these cultural practices in different geopolitical settings and how that relates to their ethnic identity in our contemporary global era.

And indicative of future success as a research scholar, Koyel is already co-author of a book chapter with UConn Prof. Bandana Purkayastha and UConn alumna Shweta M. Adur that analyzes the cultural performances of second-generation Indian/South Asian Americans.

Ms. Khan is also already a highly-regarded instructor, winning her department’s Outstanding Graduate Teaching award in 2016 and achieving impressive teaching evaluations for challenging courses that cover race and racism, gender and sexuality, human rights, social construction of deviance, and developing societies from a critical transnational perspective.

As a letter supporting her application attests, teaching these subjects “can pose extraordinary burdens for instructors who are perceived to be different … female, young, non-white … get lower evaluation scores … [And] these ‘intangible’ factors lead to an uneven teaching terrain for instructors like Koyel. [So] when she gets high scores, as she consistently does, she has navigated a much rockier road to achieve those levels than most of her peers.”

When there is spare time, Koyel’s commitment to making the academy more inclusive and communities more socially just is demonstrated by her active participation in TARANG, UConn’s South Asian cultural organization organizing performances at Yale and Stamford Public Library; summer teaching in the Center for Academic Programs (SSS), which prepares first generation college students; and serving “with courage and integrity” on the Graduate Program Committee, where she brings together US and international students of color to create opportunities to help close the gap between privilege and marginalization. Koyel Khan is a true asset to UConn and we are delighted to announce she has been selected for this well-deserved distinction.

Please join us in heartily congratulating FOTIMA PULATOVA, ZUKHRA PULATOVA and KOYEL KHAN as the 2017 Hira Jain Scholarship award winners.

About the Hira Jain Scholarship

The Hira Jain Scholarship recognizes academically outstanding undergraduate or graduate students enrolled full time at the University of Connecticut. Applicants for the scholarship may, but are not required to demonstrate financial need. The Institute administers the scholarship and invites applications every other year (biennial). Awards have ranged from $1000 to $2500, and announced before the close of the spring semester it is awarded.

Contact Ms. Fe Delos-Santos for eligibility questions and application forms.
Profiles and Photos by Fe Delos-Santos for the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute / CLAS