It is my great honor and pleasure to introduce the Korean American Ethnic Studies Curriculum: Teaching resource materials for K-12 class use. I extend my deepest gratitude to Dr. Grace Cho for leading the efforts, the curriculum development team, and the Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee for Korean Americans (ESACKA) for their earnest efforts to publish this book.
As you know, multiethnicity and multiculturalism are among California’s greatest strengths and 2021 saw several significant changes to further promote diversity. In October, California became the first state in the United States to require public high school students to take at least one semester of ethnic studies course to graduate. Additionally, in March, the California State Board of Education approved the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which includes seven topics on Korean American history. This achievement was made possible by the tireless efforts of the Korean American community, with educators writing lesson plans, community leaders promoting an online petition, the public sending letters to policymakers to advocate for ethnic studies, and everyone working to increase awareness of the campaign.
Discrimination against Asian Americans dates back to the nineteenth century but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans. To fundamentally resolve racial conflict and eliminate hate crimes, we need to listen to the stories of marginalized people and increase our mutual understanding. By learning about the rich histories and cultures of different ethnicities, I hope that students will value diversity and become inclusive global citizens. It is also my goal that Korean American students will gain more appreciation for their heritage and be inspired by learning about Korean Americans who raised their voices on social justice issues.
2022 marks the 30th anniversary of Saigu (April 29 Los Angeles Riots), one of the most heartbreaking events in Korean American history. Although there has been much healing in that time, there is still a long road ahead. I firmly believe that even if change comes slowly, teaching ethnic studies will serve as a stepping stone to moving beyond racial conflicts and promoting peace based on respect and humanity. The Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles will continue to support developing additional lesson plans and supplementary learning materials. I hope that these resources will be helpful to educators in teaching ethnic studies more actively and effectively in their schools.
Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Los Angeles