DGN should teach more about Asian cultures

Hailey Grubich, Feature Editor

Asia makes up 59.76% of the entire world’s population according to population database World O Meters. It is made up of 48 countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia; several countries that are rarely mentioned in DGN classrooms. Each country has a unique history that is being overlooked, rarely even mentioned by a teacher. DGN needs to incorporate Asian cultures into coursework.

Social studies classes that specifically talk about foreign countries include AP European History, Global Connections, Modern World History, Essentials of Geography, and Issues in World Culture Geography. None of these classes go in-depth about one specific Asian culture. The most discussed topic about Asia is the casual lesson on world religion in Global Connections. However, that still does not talk about Asian history, a topic that is important for students to be learning about today.

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, China is our largest trading partner, exchanging about 737.1 billion dollars worth of goods and services in 2018. It is almost ensured that if China’s economy were to collapse, or if we were to cut ties with them, our economy would suffer greatly. However, despite this unbreakable tie to them, there is little effort of DGN programs to teach students about China’s culture. There are many misconceptions high school students have about China that go unaddressed in a classroom setting. One Singaporean student attending college in America speaks out on their blog page how one of the most common questions asked while in America is, “So, is Singapore a part of China?” If DGN students want to head into business in their future, which most likely will involve China due to our trade with them, they will know very little. 

Looking at DGN’s Illinois Report Card on diversity, Asian students make up the third-largest racial group, yet Asians students still don’t have the option to learn about the country where their family tree is rooted. Students of European descent, however, have several options to learn about their ancestors’ history, including an entire AP course. An understanding of one’s cultural history could have the potential to open a new door with their family. One could begin to open conversations about what their family was like when living in the country that they are learning about in school. It’s about having the opportunity. 

Asia makes up 59.65% of the entire world’s population–encompassing the two most populated countries in the world: China and India. That is roughly 5 billion people that we do not learn about at school. Yes, we may learn that they practice Hinduism in India, however, we don’t understand what it is like to live in India or how India evolved into the country it is now. DGN could feasibly do more to integrate cultures like India and China into elective classes. 

DGN should teach more Asian-based material in class because of our undeniably important ties to Asian countries such as China, the opportunity it would open for Asian students, and address the fact that Asia makes up most of the world’s population. When it comes down to it, if someone put you in front of a map and asked you to find North Korea, a country that could blow us up with one command, would you be able to? Personally, my confidence waivers.