12th Annual Gala Asian American/Asian Research Institute City University of New York

Global Visionary Leadership Award Philip Berry, Dr. Muhammad Yunus (Award Recipient) & Joyce Moy

Article by Wun Kuen Ng

This year’s 12th Annual Asian American/Asian Research Institute (AAARI) Gala was held at Jin Fong Restaurant in Chinatown on November 21, 2103. The gala honored Global Visionary Award recipient Dr. Muhammad-Yunus, Chairman of Yunus Centre & Founder of Grameen Bank in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nobel Laureate; CUNY Distinguished Asian-American Alumni Award recipient Honorary Ron Kim, member of the New York State Assembly of District 40 (Queens); CUNY Thomas Tam Scholarship Award recipient Kamelia Kilawan; CUNY Ethics & Morality Essay Contest Award winners: Walter Marcus (Best Essay), Sherica Daley (1st Runner-up), Amara Shafi, and Xingcan Li (both tied as 2nd Runner-up).

CUNY Distinguished Asian American Alumni Award Joyce Moy, Aziz Ahmad (2008 Recipient), Ron Kim (Award Recipient) & Savio Chan (2009 Recipient)

AAARI, established in November 19, 2001, is a university-wide scholarly research and resource center that focuses on policies and issues that affect Asians and Asian Americans. The four areas of focus are Asian American Studies, East Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, and Trade & Technology Studies. The CUNY system has 23 institutes city-wide. As of Fall 2012, CUNY enrolled more than 45,219 Asian undergraduates and 4,252 graduate students. Of the faculty and staff at CUNY, there are 4,594 Asians.

Executive Director of AAARI Joyce Moy welcomed the guests. She is proud to have published the journal, CUNY Fourm: Asian American/ Asian Studies and issued a report, APA New Yorkers Count: Awareness to Action this year. The priority for next year would be to strengthen the Asian American studies. In order to prepare students to be global citizens, one must be educated about Asian American issues. Currently, only one CUNY institute has Asian American studies as a minor. The goal is to have Asian American studies in all CUNYs, not just Hunter College. Joyce Moy proudly honored Dr. Muhammad-Yunus the Global Visionary Award at the banquet with the help of CUNY alumna, Aziz Ahmad, who works closely with Dr. Muhammad-Yunus.

In Dr. Muhammad-Yunus’ speech, he talked about doing business based on trust as opposed to rules and regulation. Business is about resolutions, not just about money. Keep things simple and turn problems into basic forms in order to solve them. Create the world we want. We don’t have to inherit the world we are given, the young’uns can re-imagine the world. His idea was pure and simple; lend money to those who need it. Dr. Muhammad-Yunus inspired the world with his work on micro financing to the unfortunate in Bangladesh. His first loan of $27 dollars to 42 people helped transform a community, next, the world.

The following honoree was Ron Kim. He was so inspired by Yunus’ work that he vowed to continue it in his local community in Flushing. It is on a smaller scale, but nonetheless effective. Kim had made the pledge to carry on Yunus’ work to impact generations to come. Ron Kim was awarded the CUNY Distinguished Asian-American Alumni Award.

Kamelia Kilwan won the CUNY Thomas Tam Scholarship with her research on a group of Indo-Caribbean women in Kali temples. Her project examines the marginal religion and shed light on the concerns of the Indo-Caribbean community.

CUNY Ethics and Morality Essay Contest winner Walter Marcus wrote about his difficult relationship with his father after his mother died. He had learned to respect human beings and parents by examining Confucius’ virtues of benevolence/lobe, righteousness, filial piety, wisdom, and integrity and refrained to Western values of godliness, virtue, knowledge, temperance, and brotherly kindness. His prize money is $1000.

CUNY Ethics and Morality Essay Contest KY Chynn and Walter Marcus (Winner, Best Essay)

The guests were treated to a Chinese style banquet. A Chinese banquet style consists of ten courses and dessert, as if it was an eating marathon. Highlights included Prawns in Mayonnaise with Walnut, Peking-style Pork Chops. Lobster with Ginger & Scallion, Crispy Fried Whole Chicken, and Sautéed Filet of Bass Country Style. Due to long speeches and respect, the food got cold. Nonetheless, the guests left with full stomachs and had several Styrofoam boxes to take home the leftovers.

Dr. Muhammad-Yunus’ speech was so inspirational that guests quickly queued to take pictures with him. Ellen Kim of Columbia University School of Architecture Fundraising Committee came away thinking money is not a bad thing, businesses are not bad for being money driven, that is if businesses know how to give back to the community. Brian Gurski of Acceleration Group thought the mission of AAARI was well served by the fun people who were at the event. It is extremely important and inspirational to embrace the causes that someone is passionate about and to do something to make a difference.

CUNY Thomas Tam Scholarship Joyce Moy, Heung Tam, Kamelia Kilawan (Scholarship Recipient), Pearl Tam & Hiroko Karan

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