March 15, 2024

Volume 4, Issue 3

Dear Friends,

We are sharing exciting launches and updates this month regarding several of our programs.

First, we released the recording of our March 6 Teachers Workshop today. “Asian American Identity: At the Intersection of Perpetual Foreigner and Pop Culture Trendsetter” is filled with insightful discussions and resources for teachers to incorporate Asian American narratives into their lessons. And our exclusive Teachers Portal and Reference Library have been updated with more resources.

Second, we are so pleased to expand our New Asian American Voices program to center youth voices. This program, initiated in 2021, aims to provide much-needed Asian American visibility and representation in the mainstream by highlighting Asian American individuals and collectives who have made significant strides in all sectors of U.S. society. Middle and high school students are eligible to submit stories about notable Asian Americans or their allies, and we welcome teachers to engage with their students about this program.

Next, the 2024 China Focus Essay Contest is now accepting entries from college students, graduate students, and recent grads through April 12. We encourage all those who are interested in China and U.S.-China relations to submit an essay for an opportunity to win a $1,000 prize.

And last but not least, we would like to introduce this month’s essayist on contemporary China. Denise Zheng is the 1990 Institute’s Teacher Forum Coordinator and also provides research and other support for our various programs. She was born in New York and spent the first nine years of her life in Fujian, China. Denise is a PhD candidate in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Psychology Department and her research focuses on mindfulness and compassion. In the future, she would like to contribute to promoting peace and exchanges between the U.S. and China.

Please scroll down to Spotlight for details on all of our news and more.

We rely on individual contributions to sustain and grow our nonprofit programming which supports teachers and students. If you are able to make a charitable contribution, we would be so grateful to continue our work. No amount is too small. Please share our newsletters with your friends and family and encourage them to subscribe.


Catch the recording of our March 6 Teachers Workshop on the evolution of Asian American Identity on YouTube.


Where Do the Fresh Graduates Go?

By Denise Yiran Zheng

Everywhere around the globe, students are deep into their spring semesters, and many will graduate in the coming months. As a soon-to-be Ph.D. graduate at Virginia Commonwealth University studying Social Psychology, I find it interesting that in Beijing last year, there were more students set to graduate from master's and Ph.D. programs than from undergraduate programs – and yet despite the time and effort spent attaining these higher degrees, many young Chinese adults still can’t find jobs.

There is large-scale unemployment within China, especially among educated young people. The unemployment rate is more than double the pre-COVID rate with 21% of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work in June 2023 and the jobless rate for 25 to 29-year-olds at 6% in December. This data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics counts anyone who works at least one hour per week as employed and excludes students. Within China, the high unemployment rate and economic challenges have led to public discontent.

China is not alone in seeing an impact on youth unemployment following the pandemic. The member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that had the highest youth unemployment rate in June 2023 were Spain (27.4%), followed by Costa Rica (27.1%), Sweden (24.9%), Greece (23.6%), and Italy (21.3%). As the world’s second largest economy, the effects of China’s high unemployment rate could shift international relations, global supply chains, and our interconnected economies. For example, 14.2% of total U.S. imports were dependent on China in 2022 and China’s high unemployment rate could lead to issues regarding goods and services in the U.S. Moreover, youth unemployment may lead to more emigration, eventually affecting global demographics.

South China Morning Post’s “Inside China” podcast episode from last summer, “Millennials, Gen Z and hire education,” shared that while 12 million Chinese college graduates are looking to enter the workforce this year amid heightened employment pressure, China’s President Xi Jinping advised younger generations to “eat bitterness” (吃苦 or learn to endure hardship). However, young adults are often unwilling to take jobs they feel overqualified for, despite the lack of opportunities in contrast to their parents’ generation. So, many young Chinese have been adopting the attitude of “lying flat” (躺平 or a lifestyle of opting out of doing and an attitude of rejecting societal pressures to achieve) and being “full-time children” who work for their parents.

What does the future hold for fresh graduates like me? The job market looks gloomy for many young people who are not only concerned but also responding with different conceptualizations of success. Although “lying flat” might sound inactive, I see it as a way to actively define the working culture of our generation. In times of distress about my post-grad opportunities, I think back to why I decided to pursue a doctoral degree. I see the value of higher education in creating more ways I can contribute to the world I want to see, and I will apply my social science skills to build a career that is guided by my values.



Middle and high school teachers and students wanted! Submit an Asian American story for our New Asian American Voices program.


Curated News

Chinese migrants in L.A. created their own economy amid exclusion laws, new research shows | NBC News  At the turn of the 20th century, an era defined by Chinese exclusion laws and rampant anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S., many Chinese laborers found creative ways to sidestep racial barriers and support themselves, new research shows. 

China sets ambitious economic growth target of ‘around 5%’ for 2024, vows to ‘transform’ economy | CNN  The 5% figure – similar to last year’s growth target – was announced by Chinese Premier Li Qiang and comes as Beijing is seeking to boost confidence in China’s economy.

Wisconsin could become next state to mandate Asian American history in schools | NBC News  The state Senate’s committee on education voted to pass a bill that would mandate the teaching of Asian American and Hmong American history in K-12 public schools and will move to a full-Senate vote.

China’s annual parliamentary meeting has ended. Here are the key takeaways | CNBC  Key takeaways from the meetings that ended on March 11 focus on the environment, an economic focus on manufacturing, and a government overhaul of finance and tech regulation. Watch Asia Society’s webinar on what the two sessions mean for the economy, politics, and foreign policy.

Opinion: It’s Time to Restore U.S. Study Abroad to China | Inside Higher Ed  The U.S. should restore Fulbright exchanges in China, which ended in 2020, and encourage students to study there, Zhiqun Zhu writes. Another opinion in the South China Morning Post from Wang Huiyao, the founder of the Centre for China and Globalisation: How restoring youth exchanges can build future bridges between China and U.S.

Why Taiwanese Americans are moving to Taiwan — reversing the path of their parents | NPR  While the 1970s to 1990s saw a wave of Taiwanese immigrants to the United States seeking better opportunities, the pandemic has seen a wave of Taiwanese Americans moving in the opposite direction. 

Editorial: Why it would be a dangerous folly to end US–China science pact | Nature  With renewal of the two countries’ decades-long science pact still on hold, there is too much talk about the risks of collaboration – and too little about the benefits. 

Racial disparities in voter turnout have grown since Supreme Court ruling, study says | NPR  A study looked at nearly a billion voter records over a decade to examine the widening “turnout gap,” the rate at which white and nonwhite Americans vote in elections.

The LAPD has an Asian American chief for the first time. He’s the son of Korean immigrants | AP News  “I’m very happy to be the first Korean American interim chief of the Los Angeles Police Department,” said Dominic H. Choi, “and I proudly represent that community. But just to be absolutely clear, my role is to represent all communities within this city.”

South Asian American applicants to prestigious U.S. schools 50% less likely to attend than white peers, study finds | NBC News  White students are six times more likely than South Asian students to have legacy status and three times more likely than East and Southeast Asian students.

How Asian American and Pacific Islander athletes in the NFL express their cultural pride | AP News  Historically, Asian Americans have been stereotyped as more brains than brawn or treated as foreigners in U.S. sports. But they have had a presence on the NFL field for nearly a century, and football has been a mainstay in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities for decades.

Oscar-nominated 'Past Lives' was inspired by immigrant experience, director says | Reuters  The film received two Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay and won the award for best feature at the 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards.


The 2024 China Focus Essay Contest is accepting entries through April 12. Learn all the details and how to enter.



  • RECORDING AVAILABLE FOR OUR EVENT ON ASIAN AMERICAN IDENTITY  – Last week’s Teachers Workshop on “Asian American Identity: At the Intersection of Perpetual Foreigner and Pop Culture Trendsetter” is now available on YouTube. Writer and journalist Jeff Yang, Pew Research Center research associate Ziyao Tian, education consultant Margaret Yee, and Asian American Education Project regional coordinator and curriculum developer Ashley Chu led an engaging, data-filled discussion on who Asian Americans are today and the effects of the rise and visibility of Asian Americans in pop culture over the years. This workshop aimed to empower participants to encourage students and community members to embrace their unique heritage and contribute to a more inclusive and diverse cultural landscape. Visit our Teachers Portal and Reference Library for more resources. If you would like a copy of our post-workshop lesson plan filled with rich resources to prepare for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month in May, please submit your request here. Thank you again to our event co-sponsors who join us in promoting positive change. Please note that the recipient of the two tickets in the drawing for the Berkeley Rep’s upcoming performance of The Far Country has been notified.
  • SEEKING STUDENT SUBMISSIONS FOR NEW ASIAN AMERICAN VOICES –  In 2024, we are inviting secondary school teachers to engage with their students to submit an Asian American story for our New Asian American Voices program. We would also welcome submissions directly from students. These stories can include but are not limited to notable deeds, accomplishments, innovations, positive influences, valuable efforts, and/or meaningful actions that have purpose and significance for a particular community or the greater good. We are especially interested in submissions that include original short-form videos or artwork. Please visit our program on Instagram for examples of the stories and our program webpage for details on requirements.
  • OUR COLLEGE ESSAY CONTEST IS OPEN FOR ENTRIES – Are you a college student, grad student, or recent graduate and interested in China and U.S.-China relations? The 2024 China Focus Essay Contest is open and accepting entries through April 12. This year's contest is organized by China Focus, an online publication at UC San Diego, and is once again jointly hosted by the 1990 Institute, the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China, The Carter Center, and the 21st Century China Center at UC San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy. Don’t miss your chance to win up to $1,000. Last year’s winner of the 1990 Institute prize can be found here.
  • PARTNER SPOTLIGHT – THE VINCENT CHIN INSTITUTE LEGACY GUIDE – Journalist Helen Zia, a valued, long-time partner of the 1990 Institute, founded the Vincent Chin Institute in 2023. Its “Vincent Chin Legacy Guide: Asian Americans and Civil Rights” is a 64-page reference and teaching tool and provides important historical context about why we remember Vincent Chin and how his legacy helped ignite the pan-Asian civil rights movement, ultimately building a multiracial, multicultural coalition united for equal justice and human dignity which stands as a landmark in American history. The guide has been translated into various Asian languages and is available online.
  • PARTNER SPOTLIGHT – ASIAN AMERICAN EDUCATION PROJECT’S PILOT TEACHERS PROGRAM IN NYC – The Asian American Education Project is expanding its NYC pilot program in elementary, middle, and high schools at no cost to the schools. The nonprofit seeks to partner with schools committed to teaching students a more complete American history that includes Asian American voices. Pilot schools choose and implement at least one of the thematic units around Immigration, citizenship, civil rights, racism, or identity. There are many connections with existing curricula, and schools in the program reported the lesson resources were engaging and relevant. For more information, email

Dim Sum - A Little Bit of Heart


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