At Yale College in 1854, Yung Wing was the first Chinese student to receive a degree from an American university. Born in a village in Guangdong Province, China in 1828, Yung Wing attended the Macau Missionary School under the tutelage of Yale graduate Reverend Samuel Robbins Brown. At nineteen, Yung Wing arrived in the United States with Reverend Brown to enroll in the Monson Academy, Massachusetts, and eventually Yale College. At Yale, Yung Wing was a member of the choir, played football, was a member of the Boat Club, and won academic prizes for English competition. He is best known for creating the Chinese Education Mission in which 120 Chinese students came to the US on educational exchange in the 1870s. Most of these students who went on to play important roles in China's modernization. The relationship between Yale and China is both historical and intimate and its shared vision of education can be traced back to the work of this student, Yung Wing.
The Asian American Studies Coordinators, Kathy Phan (ES '15) and Miriam Cho (JE '14) collaborate with other ethnic studies groups on campus specifically to expose more of the Yale community to various facets of Asian/Asian American cultural, sociological, and political issues. The coordinators also lobby for an Asian American Studies program at Yale under the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration department and collaborate with faculty to fortify the status of Asian American studies as a valuable academic field. To achieve this objective, the Asian American Studies coordinators organize an array of events, such as conversation series, faculty dinners, Master's Teas, and non-Yale faculty lectures, that are designed to foster open communication between guest experts, professors, and students. For the 2011-12 year, the coordinators are heading a workshop series confronting issues in the Asian American community including instances of racism, affirmative action, and ethnic religious communities.