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Freeman Foundation renews grant funding Asian Educational Media Service

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
(217) 333-2177;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a grant of $525,000 to support its academic outreach services to schools and colleges over the next three years.

The grant from the Freeman Foundation will fund the center’s Asian Educational Media Service (AEMS), which through its Web site provides reviews, materials, purchase information and reference services for Asia-related media to K-12 teachers and college educators.

It is the center’s third renewal of the grant, said George Yu, center director. Over the past six or seven years, the center has received about $5 million from the Freeman Foundation for a variety of activities.

"They have been very generous to us," Yu said. "We feel very fortunate, especially considering the economic times we are in."

Among other things, the AEMS Web site offers a free searchable database, teachers’ guides, suggested material for different grade levels and information about helpful links.

In addition, it has just added new pages of resources pertaining to North Korea, because, as the introductory page states: "The current dispute over the potential development of nuclear weapons has thrust North Korea to the forefront of media attention. This site has thus been designed to provide general information for educators to teach about North Korea from a variety of perspectives."

The North Korea Web pages offer Web-linked lesson plans, materials on geography and culture, maps, photo galleries, history, human rights, North Korean portals and news. Its video links include documentary films on North Korea, plus links to videos about South Korea and videos for loan to local community educators.

AEMS also provides a free quarterly newsletter that reviews new videos, CD-ROMS and Web sites, and highlights organizations around the country that provide free or inexpensive educational resources on Asia.

AEMS also has a physical Resource Library; its holdings also are available on AEMS’ Web site.

Over the past six months AEMS’ Web site averaged 7,750 visits a month. Of these, more than half were new visitors to the site, said Sarah Barbour, AEMS program coordinator.
About 5,000 items are listed on AEMS’ online database, Barbour said, adding that the database is a research tool only, "designed to let people know what kinds of materials are available."

Still, AEMS owns "about 700 videos, DVDs and curriculum units in our library, which are available to U. of I. faculty, staff and students, and to educators in Champaign County."
Barbour can be contacted at

The Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies also administers other academic activities, including the undergraduate Asian Studies Initiative, the Freeman Fellow Program and study abroad programs – "all through the generosity of the Freeman Foundation," Yu said.

The Freeman Foundation, which has offices in New York City and Stowe, Vt., is dedicated to increasing international understanding between Asia and the United States, and does so primarily through the educational sector, Yu said.