Chit-ChAAT talks about mental health, stereotypes in Asian American community  

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The Asian American Center introduces the Chit-ChAAt series. This first meeting focused on conversations about mental health and the stereotypes that exist within the Asian/American community with free food and origami crafts.  Photo by Elizabeth He / The Daily Campus

The Asian American Center introduces the Chit-ChAAt series. This first meeting focused on conversations about mental health and the stereotypes that exist within the Asian/American community with free food and origami crafts. Photo by Elizabeth He / The Daily Campus

“Oftentimes, we don’t get to communicate with our professors,” Kulnoor Saini, third-semester political science and finance double major, said to a group of students in the Asian American Cultural Center (AsACC) Thursday. 

The sense of comfort Saini felt following an informal chat with a professor from the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute led her to not only take an independent study course with the professor, but also led to the creation of AsACC’s new Chit-ChAAt series. Saini is an internal events organizer within AsACC and wanted to create an open forum with no guidelines for students to speak and share their opinions. Faculty and staff from the university would also participate in the conversation in an informal, non-lecture style environment. 

“Let’s have a discussion and just see how it goes,” Saini said, encouraging participants to eat, create and talk to each other. 

The night began with veggie dumplings and scallion pancakes for participants to munch on as they took part in the discussion. Food was a draw for students to come, Saini said. In addition to snacks, Saini also had arts and crafts, including origami and plants, with the intention of keeping the event relaxed and fostering creativity. 

Amanda Waters, psychologist from the Student Health and Wellness Center, was also part of the event to facilitate the conversation. It was important to her to humanize the people from the center, Waters said. 

“Addressing the mental health of minority students [is important]; it is a public health issue,” Waters said.  

One question that was asked of the students in attendance was: What mental health issues are present in the community? One student said the subject is not talked about, while another student added that Asian and Asian American parents in particular invalidate mental health.  

Waters added that it was important to also consider mental health in Asia, citing a recent death of South Korean actress Sulli.  

Saini had suggested an outgoing person may still be struggling with mental health issues as well when she posed the question: What can individuals do to change the view of mental health within themselves? One student said self-validation is important, while another student added it was important to check in on people.  

The next Chit-ChAAt series will talk about immigration history and incorporate a “memory cards” activity, said Saini. 


Kimberly Nguyen is the digital editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.nguyen@uconn.edu.

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