Summer Centered: Alie Lin ’19 Works to Transform Pearl Street
The comparative literature major is interning with Philadelphia's Asian Arts Initiative, focusing on its revitalization project of four blocks in Chinatown.
Hoping to help bolster community and culture through art, Alie Lin ’19 is interning at the Asian Arts Initiative (AAI) in Center City Philadelphia. With funding from the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) and John B. Hurford '60 Center (HCAH), the comparative literature major and gender and sexuality studies concentrator is helping reach out to community members and strengthening inter-organizational relationships this summer.
The focus of Lin’s internship is in the AAI’s Pearl Street Project which includes reinvigorating four blocks of the street in Chinatown with programming, exhibits, and events to transform the neglected alley into a community asset. While her primary duties involve community outreach, as a result of the AAI’s “intentionally flexible organizational structure,” she is also helping with gallery installations, event staffing, and even trash pick-up.
“In general, my days are pretty exciting because there is so much going on in my workspace,” Lin says.
Through outreach, Lin is finding out how community members feel about their neighborhood, what they like about it and what they think needs improvement. With this information, the AAI hopes “to advance the equitable growth and sustainable development of the neighborhood, and to place the experiences and identities of the people who live, work, and learn in this neighborhood at the center of this process.”
But for Lin, “the most exciting thing about working at the AAI is the opportunity to meet artists and hear them talk about their work.” While assisting Social Practice Lab Artist-in-Residence, Yvonne Lung, she learned about the “Dish” project, which “encourages youth in the Chinatown community to learn a homemade dish from their elders, document this process, and share the dish with the greater community.” Lung described to Lin how she aims to counter the cultural loss felt after the death of a relative by preserving family dishes and intergenerational bonds.
After she first discovered the AAI “when a friend dragged me to a poetry workshop during my first year,” Lin applied to work there through the CPGC and HCAH, who are now funding her on-campus housing and transportation into the city.
Lin thinks her internship will prove useful for her eventual comp lit thesis in which she hopes to understand the way people “respond to injustice” across “contexts, genres, and disciplines. I get to see this process in action in my internship, so I think this work is pretty relevant to my major.”
-Andrew Nguyen '19
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.