In the third decade of the so-called Asian century, European and North American universities and governments continue to neglect the world’s most populous continent. As Asia grows ever more powerful, this must change, scholars tell Joyce Lau.
Defunding diverse language classes is a mistake for a 21st century institution. Learning new languages empowers people to access other cultures, communicate with strangers, participate in business and foreign policy, and even connect to their own family history. Instead of falsely portraying multilingual Americans as unpatriotic, we should consider them an asset who help the nation to engage with the world, communicate liberal democratic ideals to a broader international audience, and assist new immigrants in better integrating here at home.
City College in San Francisco and Stanford University are two of only 20 colleges in the nation that provide Cantonese classes, according to the Cantonese Language Association at Brigham Young University. Those classes were almost canceled this fall and their future on the campuses is uncertain, despite the mobilization of students and alumni. (Read more)
In spite of the perception that Cantonese is fading, there are popular movements, academic programs and a flowering of media, leading to a "resurgence of awareness and interest in learning the language among the Cantonese diasporas around the world, thanks to new Internet resources like Cantonese YouTubers and digital materials.” (Read more)
The Graduate Student Council (GSC) unanimously passed a resolution urging Stanford to fully restore its Cantonese language program and enable the program’s courses to fulfill the University’s language requirement at its Wednesday meeting. (Read more)
The Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution to restore Stanford’s Cantonese Language Program and enable its courses to fulfill the University Language Requirement during Monday’s meeting. The undergraduate students have spoken, and the resolution moves to the Graduate Student Council Next. Will the University administration respond? (Read more)
Advocates are calling for a new blueprint, the Cantonese Studies Initiative, to protect the Cantonese language program from future financial strain and permanently tie Cantonese to Stanford’s teaching mission. The initiative also aims to financially support faculty and graduate student research that intersects with Cantonese studies. (Read more)
Cantonese at Stanford is truly at a crossroads, and this is a moment not only to show support for the continuation of its teaching at the university but also to reflect on the importance of Cantonese and why it deserves to be taught as an independent subject at Western universities. (Read more)
AsAmNews, which specializes in coverage of Asian American issues, interviews several Save Cantonese coalition members about why Cantonese is worth saving, and juxtaposes their comments with a University spokesperson's comments on budget cuts. (Read more)
Save Cantonese team members suggest that cutting Cantonese courses "damages the university’s global reputation and undermines its self-professed commitment to diversity." They argue for a future "where multilingual citizens of the world can converse freely and openly in a multitude of languages, including their mother tongues" and suggest that "as the most widely-spoken Sinitic language other than Mandarin, Cantonese offers a more pluralistic understanding of China." (Read more)
Stanford's termination of its only Cantonese instructor reinforces a mistaken and politically-charged belief in Mandarin as a "core" language and other Chinese languages as "dialects," at the expense of flattening and silencing diverse beliefs and experiences. (Read more)
The cancellation of the Cantonese language program and the firing of Sik Lee Dennig represent Stanford's devaluation of Cantonese language, culture, and historic contributions. Although Cantonese does not seem in danger of disappearing, if there is not continued support of language learning, the language and the culture along with it can easily vanish. (Read more)
The Bay Area's KTSF 26 Chinese TV station reports on Stanford's refusal to renew Dr. Sik Lee Dennig's contract and students' efforts to save the Cantonese language program. Originally broadcast on television. (Read more and watch the video)
More than 3200 have signed a petition asking for Stanford to maintain and invest in its Cantonese language program as part of its commitment to diversity and its historical debt to Cantonese-speaking people. (Read more)
After the firing of Sik Lee Dennig, the only Cantonese instructor at Stanford, a petition has been created calling the move inconsistent with its aims of diveristy and inclusion, and for Stanford university to save its Cantonese program. (Read more)
The Stanford Daily reports on cuts to the Cantonese program at Stanford, due to budgetary shortfalls, suggesting this is tantamount to the erasure of Cantonese contributions to the building of Stanford. (Read more)
We welcome all individuals who care about Cantonese language education—including Stanford students and alumni, as well as supporters who are not alumni—to sign the petition. There is an option to mark whether you are an alumnus or an external supporter.