Creating a home away from home for APIDA students
The mission of the Cornell Asian and Asian American Center (A3C) is to bring together the rich diversity of student experiences to support a strong and inclusive campus community. The center promotes positive student-to-student and group-to-group interaction to contribute to the multicultural education of all students and to the social/cultural development of leaders able to navigate a diverse and complex global society.
The center is led by assistant director Daniel Hoddinott. He earned a bachelor’s in human resource management at Rutgers University and a master’s in higher education from Syracuse University, where he worked with students in fraternity and sorority affairs, the LGBT Resource Center, and Learning Communities. Prior to coming to Cornell, he worked as a complex coordinator in the Honors Quad at the University of Texas at Austin.
What does it mean to be part of the Asian and Asian-American community at Cornell?
Broadly, the term “Asian and Asian American” refers to individuals whose ancestry can be traced to the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia or the Pacific Islands. The center is inclusive of all students, with a specific focus on APIDA, or Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi-American students. APIDA is a newer term that many colleges and universities are adopting. The shift is more inclusive and reaffirms Desi-Americans, which refers to people from the Indian subcontinent or South Asia and their diaspora, as part of the broader community.
As a center, we want to make sure that all students feel that our programs are for them and that this space is for them. The important thing is to have conversations with students to learn about their experiences and needs, as communities have similarities, but also differences, that make them unique.
What type of resources or programming does the center offer?
The center offers a wide range of programs and services for the Cornell community. We really strive to provide that “home away from home” for APIDA students. We offer a study space, meeting spaces for student organizations or classes, a library of Asian and Asian American literature and advising for student organizations. The center also collaborates often with the Cornell Asian Pacific Islander Student Union (CAPSU), Asian American Studies Program (AASP), Cornell Asian Alumni Association (CAAA), among others. One of the new umbrella organizations is the South Asian Council (SAC), and we look forward to working with them this year.
“Remember that you’re not alone during this journey; you have many individuals and groups that will support and be there for you.”
I think the best education we can provide is when students are leading students, which the center’s programs incorporate. Our newest initiative is C.L.I.M.B., or Cornell Leadership, Identity, Mentorship and Beyond. This is a peer-facilitated, identity reflection and leadership program that began in spring 2018. The program focuses on the examination of social and identity-based issues that affect APIDA students and concludes with a community-based project. This allows students to take what they are learning in the weekly sessions and to apply it to a real-world situation.
As part of the new diversity and inclusion portfolio in the Dean of Students Office, there’s great opportunity to engage in new partnerships while improving current ones with other offices and departments. In addition, we want to expand our First-Year Experience Mentorship Program, along with alumni programming and continuing to build the internship program.
How will you engage students who are not already familiar with the center and its resources?
I think that it’s important for the center to be visible on campus by attending as many events and programs as possible — setting up a table at Orientation, new student events, student organization events and speaking to classes. We also hold an open house in the fall that’s a low-key event where students can check out the space, talk to current interns and learn more about A3C. The center has a wide range of programs that strive to provide another avenue for students to be involved. If students have an idea of how a program could be improved or a new idea, I am always open to discussing it.
What advice would you give to incoming students at Cornell?
Be present in the moment. The good thing about Cornell is that there are so many different avenues for students to get involved, but the challenge is that sometimes students are overwhelmed and unsure where to begin. I often find that students feel that they need to know everything before experiencing college, but that’s not true. Students will go through trials and tribulations to find their passions both inside and outside the classroom, so get involved, but remember to take time to reflect and recharge. College is a long journey, so don’t feel like you have to go fast. Remember that you’re not alone during this journey; you have many individuals and groups that will support and be there for you. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the experience! You only get to be a college undergraduate once.
The Asian & Asian American Center (AC3) is located at 626 Thurston Ave., Second Floor. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays, and 12 to 8 p.m. on Sundays.