UK Happenings

UK Hosts Discussion on Conversing About Anti-Asian Hate With International Students

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 26, 2021) — From “kung flu” to the “China virus,” the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in anti-Asian hate, most recently evidenced in the mass shooting at Atlanta-area spas. How is this surge in xenophobia affecting international students, 70% of whom are from Asia?

The University of Kentucky Office of China Initiatives (OCI) and Latitude(s) is hosting a much-needed conversation on anti-Asian hate and international students at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 28. This panel discussion will be moderated by Karin Fischer, longtime higher-education journalist with a focus on international education and correspondent with The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The panel will explore the experience of international students in this rising wave of anti-Asian rhetoric. It will also discuss how institutions can work to combat this racism and support their international students in this difficult time.

“International students encounter racism, but too often, they are left out of broader campuswide conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Fischer said. “It's valuable to hear from students about their experiences and to learn how educators can build effective programming and support for their international-student population."

The talk, “How to Talk About Anti-Asian Racism with International Students,” will take place via Zoom. Panelists will include Kelly Wagner, program manager for global engagement at the University of Michigan; Yuezhong Zheng, staff at the International Students and Scholars Center at the Arizona State University; Katie Koo, an assistant professor of Higher Education at Texas A&M University-Commerce; Ruwen Chang, a doctoral candidate in gender and women’s studies and graduate research fellow in the Office of Policy Studies on Violence Against Women at the University of Kentucky; and Kuhan Rajendran, an undergraduate student at University of Kentucky, majoring in mechanical engineering. After the panel discussion, attendees will be able to ask questions.

Huajing Maske, executive director of UK’s Office of China Initiatives, said this panel discussion convenes innovative practitioners in the field of international education who are experienced in supporting international students.

“It will be one of the first to explore strategies for international students to navigate the current anti-Asian climate in the U.S. and also examine how we as educators we can better support those students,” Maske said. “It’s important to be sensitive to the uncertainty and extra anxiety international students endure during this difficult time and do all we can to support them. It is what any institution that claims to be inclusive should be doing.”

Sue Roberts, UK’s associate provost for internationalization, said it’s imperative that U.S. universities recognize the real fear, pain and anger international students are experiencing as they witness the daily news in their host country.   

“We university leaders need to find effective ways to listen and to understand the diverse experiences of all our students and learn from them and from one another about how best we may support them at this time,” Roberts said. “This panel is a welcome opportunity to share ideas and strategies to make good on our promise to international students that they are welcome here."

To register for the discussion, go to

For more information about OCI or the panel discussion contact Huajing Maske at

About Office of China Initiatives

Established in 2014, the UK International Center’s Office of China Initiatives (OCI) is the hub for UK-China relations, allowing UK to develop and expand its China initiatives and engagement.

OCI leads UK’s strategy in building institutional partnerships with Chinese institutions to offer opportunities of teaching, research and learning for UK faculty, staff and students as they connect with China both locally and through China travel. The OCI team facilitates recruitment of Chinese students to UK through university partnerships and provides customized support to Chinese students and scholars throughout their time at UK and beyond. OCI helps to ensure Chinese students and scholars' academic success, social/cultural integration and belonging. OCI leads UK’s China branding and alumni relations strategy, facilitating opportunities for UK graduates to engage in the Chinese global workforce and marketplace.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.