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Developing a Resource Guide ASIA IN CONNECTICUT: A Catalogue of Asian Resources in Connecticut and Environs

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Asia in Connecticut was developed as a resource guide for educators at all academic levels. The first edition of this directory, originally published by the University of Connecticut, appeared in 1980.1 The second edition is completely revised to reflect current technologies and methodologies in research and communication. It was designed as a user friendly reference for Asian studies in Connecticut and neighboring states. From the beginning of the second edition, we hoped that other regions of the country would develop similar guides to assist teachers to locate available resources.

By discussing Asia in Connecticut we intend to provide an outline which may be adapted for other regions. This essay on Asia in Connecticut is intended to both inform Northeastern teachers about this resource and to stimulate educators in other regions to develop similar directories.

Financial support for developing the second edition of Asia in Connecticut came from the Council of Conferences of the Association for Asian Studies. The COC offers regional grants annually. Assistance in research, typing and publication was provided by the University of Hartford and by individual scholars interested in the project. The original distribution of the volume was to teachers attending the Committee on Teaching Asia sessions at the regional meeting of the New England Association for Asian Studies.

The table of contents sug­gests the variety of categories covered by the guide. The majority of the topics focus on the delivery of information and resources. These topics include information on libraries, educa­tional centers, outreach centers, museums and performing arts organizations. In addition, there are essays which offer teaching suggestions as well as a section on keeping up to date on Asia.

Under the heading Sources of Information on Asia, subdivi­sions provide data on a variety of such sources. These include academic societies and organiza­tions, book shops which special­ize in Asia, addresses of embassies and consulates, as well as United Nations missions. Additionally, state Social Stud­ies supervisors in each of the New England states are identi­fied, as well as exchange pro­grams and how to find transla­tors and language schools.

The last major section identi­fies Asian scholars in Connecti­cut. The list of Asian scholars in Connecticut is based on the Association for Asian Studies subscription list. It provides name and e-mail addresses of academics who can often pro­vide advice or a free lecture. This list of scholars is divided into area classifications of China and Inner Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia. To make it easier for teachers to find scholars in their own vicini­ty, scholars are listed by coun­ties as well as by discipline.

Educational centers, libraries and outreach centers have books, a variety of specialized periodi­cals, maps and videos which can be borrowed for classroom use. Some resource centers also sup­ply kits which contain artifacts or items such as calligraphy materi­als to introduce students to a more tangible aspect of learning. Resource personnel are available to advise about both nonprint material and new monographs. Often these centers can supply speakers to come to the class­room to demonstrate special techniques or lecture on a specif­ic or general topic.

Museums both in Connecticut and adjacent areas can also pro­vide a venue for a field trip to let students see relevant art exhibits, costumes, export products, folk art, or crafts. Addresses for Con­necticut and nearby museums in New York and Massachusetts are included in the guide. One exam­ple which illustrates the wealth of the region is located in Milton, Massachusetts in The Captain Robert Bennet Forbes House. It portrays the U.S. China trade with actual export items.

The Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts brings the student in contact with the clip­per ships that plied the seas bringing the east coast of the United States into contact with Asia in the nineteenth century. Museum educators and docents lead students through exhibits on site, and will at times bring exhibits to the classroom. This section is annotated to provide readers with information on the major attraction of each museum.

Teachers certainly know that experience is how we learn best. Almost every region of the coun­try has ethnic restaurants which provide a culinary insight into that culture. Regional foods high­light geographic diversity within a country or area. A restaurant with authentic cuisine and atmos­phere is a good choice for an effective field trip. When such restaurants are local, an advan­tage for teachers and students may be that such a trip can be completed within an afternoon or extended class period. While individual restaurants were iden­tified in the original edition by regions within the state and by cuisine, the current edition omits such references but includes essays on the art of food. Tele­phone directories or the yellow pages frequently classify restau­rants by cuisine and region.

The section “Educational Centers and Libraries” is a selec­tively annotated list of local libraries, colleges and universi­ties. These frequently have inter­national students‚ and associa­tions which will supply speakers to visit the classroom and share their cultures with students.

The Connecticut area is richly endowed with facilities that sponsor and illustrate the diversi­ty of Asian performing arts pro­grams. Dance, opera, other musi­cal programs, and individual per­formers can be brought to the school for a fee (or perhaps through a grant from a local humanities organization). Both academic and commercial pro­grams are listed in the directory.

Accurate sources of informa­tion and exhibitable materials help teachers provide students with up-to-date information on the regions they are exploring. Embassies, consulates and Unit­ed Nations missions often freely provide data, materials and speakers for educational institu­tions. Academic societies and organizations are other sources of this type of information. These may be more objective than the information supplied by embassies. Specialized book shops can also supply relevant materials. Each of these sources is identified in a separate section of the catalog.

One of the most useful sections is entitled Asia on the Internet. Approximately three hundred of the most important web sites from among the thousands available are identified with a brief description and Internet address.

A round logo of two gods.The Internet is a fertile research field, but it can also be a minefield. Students may not as yet know how to distinguish unverified sources from accurate or valid sources. Students can visit sites established by academ­ic institutions or Asian countries and download vast amounts of data. Frequently there are several sites related to the same country or region with different perspec­tives. Students can be taught to analyze and interpret information in this manner.

The Asia Society (also listed under Performing Arts) is an organization located in New York City which has projects serving many parts of the coun­try. The Asia Society educational website, AskAsia. org, is an example of a reliable and rich research tool and communica­tions vehicle both for students and for teachers.

By using a directory such as Asia in Connecticut, keeping up to date with events in Asia does not need to be a difficult or time consuming task. This section of the directory, appropriately titled “Keeping Up to Date,” suggests some short cuts to gaining need­ed information and perspective. Apart from the Internet programs noted above, are international newspapers such as the Financial Times of India, the South China Morning Post and the Star of Malaysia. Updated daily, these provide the most current snap­shot of issues and reactions to national or world events.

More studied portraits may be found in journals and news magazines. Each January and February issue of Asian Survey, a University of California publication, carries articles on all Asian nations and reviews the major trends of the previous year. Annually the September issue of Current History is entirely devoted to articles on various facets of contemporary China. Other issues contain insightful articles on other Asian countries. In addition, weekly current events are ably reported in the Far Eastern Economic Review and in Asia week.

Also listed are the perennially useful research catalogs which include Yale University’s Cata­log of A.V. Materials, Resources and Organizations at Yale Uni­versity. Two useful items pro­duced by the Five College Center for East Asian Studies at Smith include the Japan Resource Cat­alog: A Guide for New England Educators, which is updated annually, and The China and Korea Resource Catalog. Both include curriculum units, listings of video cassettes, slides and filmstrips, recordings, resource guides, maps, kits and books. Resources for Teaching About Japan by Linda Wojtan, pub­lished by the National Clearing­house for U.S.-Japan Studies, Indiana University (1993), dis­cusses numerous projects as well as sources of information.

Another source of Japan-related information and organiza­tions as well as American educa­tional programs on Japan is Japan Information Resources in the United States (1995). Other examples of this category include state publications. The Connecti­cut State Department of Educa­tion published two guides which still prove useful to teachers. India: A Look Across Cultures (1973), provides lesson plans and data on the main aspects of Indi­an society and history. China Curriculum for Secondary Schools (1981), prepared under a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council, provides similar information on China.

Since Asia in Connecticut is on-line2 it is periodically updat­ed. Developing a local resource guide either in print or on-line (or both) provides users with both a general introduction and a refer­ence tool. Both public and pri­vate school libraries should include this directory in their col­lections.3 Educators at all acade­mic levels can find useful infor­mation, addresses, web sites and other resources in their immedi­ate locale, as well as those sources which are national or international in scope.


1. Asia in Connecticut, Colleen A. Kelly, ed., Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut, 1980.

2. Website:

3. Copies of Asia in Connecticut are available from Dr. Bruce Esposito, O. Box 110, Farmington, CT 06032.