‘Where I can be myself’

The UNC Asian American Center celebrates the opening of its physical location with a ribbon-cutting event and look inside the center.

Being in the minority often means hiding parts of your heritage from others, Selina Shi told the audience at the Aug. 26 ribbon-cutting ceremony to open Carolina’s new Asian American Center at 215. W. Cameron Ave.

“This center means something different for each student. For me it’s a place where I can be myself ― where I know that every aspect of my identity is accepted and celebrated,” said Shi, a junior Morehead-Cain Scholar and current director of the center’s fundraising campaign.

Representing the University’s Board of Trustees, trustee Gene Davis emphasized the importance of the center’s role in fulfilling the University’s first strategic initiative, Build Our Community Together.

“More importantly, it moves us toward a University community that is rooted in the virtues of kindness, love and acceptance ― a community in which every person truly feels that they belong, truly feels that they add value, truly feels that they are special,” Davis said.

Birthed virtually in September 2020, the Asian American Center came to be both sooner and later than might be expected. Sooner, because the launch occurred amid the University’s virtual pivot due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, because the University’s largest ethnic minority ― currently 17% of the student body ― have been talking about a center of their own since the 1980s.

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