Elevating Asian Voices in the South

Story #12

Meet Christian Chan (he/him/his)

Christian Chan is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development at UNCG. He’s been in Greensboro since June 2020, when he moved to the city from Idaho. His work primarily deals with research as well as teaching about the impacts of trauma, particularly race-based trauma, within counseling and education. Chan is gay and is of Filipino, Chinese, and Malaysian descent.

“In order to make sense of who I am, I had to connect my different identities.”

More of Christian's Story

 

Tell me about your background and how you came to Greensboro.

“Really what brought me to Greensboro was this really beautiful opportunity to join the UNCG community. I transitioned from living for three years in Idaho while I was at Idaho State University and I got a tenure track assistant professor position at UNCG in June 2020.

It was during the middle of COVID, but the beautiful part about the transition was that I have felt at home at UNCG and in Greensboro from Day 1.”

 

Can you tell us more about your work at UNCG? 

“My primary role is related to research, teaching and service. For research, I live and breathe and practice intersectionality. What that means is not just connections between social identities, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about how we think about action and how we’re locating and dismantling intersecting forms of oppression. They’re tied to our lived experiences, especially for many of us who live with multiple marginalized identities. It shows up in my passion for understanding the effects of oppression and trauma, particularly race-based trauma, on counseling and educational pathways. I think a lot about how we seek out counseling and how we think about our own careers and education. So those are the two main areas that I cover.”

 

What is it about UNCG and Greensboro that made you feel so welcome from the start?

“I found that at UNCG I’m rediscovering my joy in community on campus and in work. I feel like I’m meshing all these worlds together. Just seeing the community on campus doing such profound work, that is what really fulfills me and shows me where I’m really connecting to my heart.

When we find institutional departments that really support, affirm and celebrate our expertise, we’re celebrated for everything we bring as a person. In the past, I’ve been tokenized for having multiple marginalized identities. But here, I’m celebrated for who I am and the fullness of who I am; this is a place where I feel like I belong.

I’ve also been able to find connection and home in all of these LGBTQ+ communities too. For example, I played in the Stonewall Sports league this past year.

I really found that this is a perfect-sized city for me. I feel like it’s easy to find connections here.”

 

You mentioned that you have multiple marginalized identities. Can you tell me a bit about your racial background?

“I grew up in suburbs of L.A. in West Covina, and I found that different transitions in my life made me more attuned to my racial development and more attuned to how racism manifested in these different environments. 

In L.A., in many capacities, we would talk about race and identity and cultural values. It was something that was practiced in everyday life, but not something that was broached in an explicit way. It became more explicit when I went to Notre Dame.

When I went to the midwest, it was a source of peace because I loved the community of Notre Dame, but it was a huge culture shock for me. Not necessarily because of the transition from the city to a college town, but because of some of the racial microaggressions that I faced from the day I got to campus.

There were assumptions that I knew every other Asian on campus or about what my ethnic identity was based on my last name or the color of my skin. The thing was, it was also displayed amongst my BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) colleagues and friends. There were jokes about Asian glow and drinking. I was facing much more explicit forms of racism. It pushed me to find community with other friends and colleagues. That helped me to deepen my connections to my own culture.”

 

Tell me more about those cultural connections.

“My parents are both immigrants so there was so much preservation of culture and traditions. Going through that undergraduate experience really deepened my connection to my racial and ethnic identities. It helped me to deepen my passion, which is shedding light on disparities on racial minoritization, racial discrimination. It helped me to attune to ways we were thinking about systemic racism.

The racialized experience for Asian communities has been happening for decades and centuries. That acknowledgment is scary for us and it’s also hurtful. There’s so much emotion we’re living in. So I was coming to an understanding of my own family and what the hesitancy is around mental health counseling, and what part I am playing in the healing as part of my family.

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Story Collaborators
Scott Muthersbaugh, Perfecta Visuals

Scott Muthersbaugh, Perfecta Visuals

Photography

After cutting his teeth in the newspaper world, Scott teamed up with renowned photographer Jerry Wolford to form Perfecta Visuals. Together, they create commercial photography and motion products with their signature mix of authenticity and polish.

Scott prides himself on keeping a shoot on track, on time, and on budget. He launched his career as a photojournalist in the daily newspaper industry after graduating from Elon University with a double major in broadcast communications and psychology. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Hugh Morton Photographer of the Year in 2013.

Sayaka Matsuoka

Sayaka Matsuoka

Managing Editor, Triad City Beat & Freelance Journalist

Sayaka Matsuoka (she/her) is a journalist who grew up at the intersection of her Japanese heritage and the suburban south. She is the managing editor for Triad City Beat, a weekly newspaper covering the Triad in NC, and is also the Diversity Chair for the Association for Alternative Newsmedia, a national organization of more than 100 news media in North America.
 
Using her cultural background, she focuses on issues surrounding race and identity, immigrant food culture, activist art, and cultural exchange.
Dave Soper, Maunaleo Ventures

Dave Soper, Maunaleo Ventures

Media Production

Dave is a builder, fixer, and protector of digital things. He has worked for small businesses and Fortune 200 companies across multiple industries, including financial services, manufacturing, and defense.

Dave was born in the District of Columbia but considers the Districts of North Kohala and Hamakua his spirit home. So once from the District, always from a District. Dave does not do social media or answer the phone very much, so if you want to talk to him, you will probably need to go analog… brah,  dasswhyhard

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