Section: News

KAI hosts Asian American Pacific Islander professor panel 

KAI hosts Asian American Pacific Islander professor panel 

The AAPI Professor Panel | AJ MOLINA

On Sept. 21, Kenyon Asian Identities (KAI) hosted its fourth annual panel with Kenyon’s Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) professors, an event where professors and faculty members had the opportunity to answer questions about their own lives and offer advice to AAPI students at Kenyon. This year’s panel was held in the Gund Commons ballroom and featured 14 faculty and staff, along with 80 attendees. 

KAI started the professor and faculty panel in 2020 as part of its overarching goal to amplify the voices of AAPI students. Although the first two panels were held virtually, this year’s panel was held in person. The event was capped at 80 people, as students had to register in advance for the conversation. 

The panel featured 12 professors spanning multiple academic departments, with Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion René Guo and Kenyon Review Fellow Cindy Juyoung Ok also in attendance. 

KAI’s executive board posed several questions to the group, beginning by asking about advice that the professors might offer to AAPI students. Many professors emphasized the importance of community at Kenyon, both among students and among faculty as well. “At Kenyon, you guys have to find each other, find where you feel safe and who will make you grow,” Assistant Professor of Art History Patricia Yu responded. Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Bess Xintong Liu agreed, advising students to “make connections with [their] professors and to not limit networking towards professors of the same race.”

Other questions offered professors and faculty the chance to speak about their current projects and teaching or administrative work. Professors spoke about a variety of short-term projects they hope to complete, ranging from research to literary analysis.

The professors and faculty members also responded to a question about managing imposter syndrome — the chronic doubt of their own talents or accomplishments — while at Kenyon. All of the professors in attendance responded, with several speakers highlighting how imposter syndrome is a common experience for Kenyon students. 

“You [students] are in a crowd of imposters,” Associate Professor of English Pashmina Murthy said, noting that many people struggle invisibly with imposter syndrome. Yu agreed: “If you are ever experiencing imposter syndrome, just think about the people running for president.” 

While many questions focused on the more serious aspects of the professors’ experiences at Kenyon and in higher education overall, later questions in the panel focused on more lighthearted topics. Professors addressed common misconceptions about the disciplines they teach, as well as other academic subjects they would be interested in. KAI’s executive board also asked the panel members about their dream dinner guest, pet peeves and whether they’d quit their job if they won the lottery. Fortunately, the majority of professors answered “no.” 

The panel concluded with a catered dinner from Hunan Garden for panel members and attendees.

News Editor Rachel Botkin ’24 contributed to reporting.

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