As a young adult Asian American Buddhist who has not always been comfortable adopting the labels of “Asian American” or “Buddhist” (or “young adult,” for that matter), I was motivated to embark on this project by a mixture of confusion and loneliness. Confusion: why are the experiences and perspectives of Asian American Buddhists, especially young adults, underrepresented in scholarly literature and popular media about American Buddhism? Loneliness: in my visits to a broad range of Buddhist temples and meditation centers in the U.S., I am often left wondering, where are all the other young adult Asian American Buddhists?
My MA thesis is indebted to the twenty-six young adults who have agreed to complete (very extensive!) in-person interviews about their Buddhist practices, communities, and beliefs; perceptions of Buddhism in America; and opinions about the representation of Asian American Buddhists. As I approach the defense date of my MA thesis in March 2014, I am realizing that this topic merits a study of even greater depth. As a result, I am now conducting email interviews and building a network of people who are interested in offering their insights about this project. My aim is to produce a book-length work about Asian American Buddhists that is accessible to a wider audience.
Share your Perspective
I hope to interview people from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds and Buddhist traditions. Several people have asked whether they “qualify” for an interview. If you’re not sure, the answer is probably yes! Of course, I am happy to answer this question on an individual basis; email me and let’s talk more. I find it helpful to interview anyone who is interested in this topic, including people who do not explicitly identify as Buddhist or Asian American. Generally speaking, I hope to interview young adults (roughly 18 to 39) who have a connection to Buddhist practice and some form of ancestral heritage in the continent of Asia.
While my first round of interviews were conducted in-person in the Bay Area and Southern California, the current round of email interviews is not geographically limited. Please contact me if you are interested in setting up an email interview, or would just like to chat with me about the project.
And of course, please help spread the word—the more people who are a part of this project, the more meaningful it will be. Thank you for your support!