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Thread: Any Asian planners out there?

  1. #1
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    Any Asian planners out there?

    I've been a long time silent observer of this board.

    Are there any planning students/graduates/aspiring planners who's from East Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea, etc. as well as Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, etc. (not sure if India is considered Asian country) and currently going for/just finished planning degree?

    There is a huge Chinese population in my planning program. When I ask those Chinese students why they chose planning as their major, most of them mention the construction boom currently going on in Shanghai and great planning job opportunities there. But I'm not sure if they're mistaken when they said planning job opportunities they really meant construction/real estate job opportunities.

    Besides, there are a good number of students from Singapore and European countries like France, Germany, etc. And all of the professors in my planning department are either from foreign countries or have experience in foreign countries.

    But if you actually look at the planning department of any U.S. city, planners are predominantly white. So far, I have not seen a single planning department that has Asian planners. Then, what are you Asians in U.S. planning degree program looking to do after graduating? Get a job in private sector? Go for Ph.D.? Or go back to your country and find a job there?

    Many U.S. cities like San Francisco and Honolulu have large Asian population. Yet, there isn't any Asian planner or any other civil servant that I know of. APA and other planning-related associations always emphasize that profession of planning should include more minorities and women in the job places but in reality, planning is still a white-predominant profession. What are you Asian planners in U.S. doing? What are your career aspirations?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    There were a few Asians in my planning program when I was in school, but all of them were international students with intentions of going back to their home countries. Come to think of it, I have never encountered an Asian planner in my career.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    I know of one. He works for a company in San Francisco (which has been mentioned before on this board, but it referred to the boston office) and he is a really cool guy. We also had an Asian planner on our staff for about two years before she decided to go to grad school and study urban design back east. She had a Chinese background, but raised in the states. She actually was a go between for a delegation of Chinese Mayors that visited the states over a year ago and our company hosted a round table forum to discuss issues similar to China and here in California. We had hoped to retain her because it is our company's ambition to try to enter the Chinese Planning Arena through the Central Government. That is the next boom area for many planning firms going international, or who are international.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    We have a couple up in Oregon...
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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I worked with a Korean planner for a number of years. He started acquiring rental property, first houses, then apartment complexes, brought other relatives over to help with the business and left planning to become a full-time college town slumlord.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    There are a fair number of Asian students in my program ranging from Turkey to Iran to India to Korea. Most of the Korean students are mid level planners sent here by the government of South Korea to complete coursework to further their careers and knowledge through a special exchange program. I know several Asian planners in private practice as well and work with one of them on my current project.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  7. #7
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    I'm an Asian wannabe planner - if that counts. I'm currently an undergrad student and might apply to grad programs in planning next year. I think it's a bit early for me to decide what exactly I want to do afterwards, but I would probably rather work in government than a private company.

    I know a few Asian planning students at Waterloo, but only one of them is actually from Asia (I think the rest are Canadian born, like me). However, I notice that most Asians at my school are in programs that would make them lots of money, such as Actuarial Science, Accounting, Engineering, and Computer Science. It's kinda sad, but at least we don't fit into that stereotype.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Are there any planning students/graduates/aspiring planners who's from East Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea, etc. as well as Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, etc. (not sure if India is considered Asian country) and currently going for/just finished planning degree?
    Yes, India is considered Asian. In fact the Middle East and parts of Russia are deemed as part of Asia as well.

    But if you actually look at the planning department of any U.S. city, planners are predominantly white. So far, I have not seen a single planning department that has Asian planners. Then, what are you Asians in U.S. planning degree program looking to do after graduating? Get a job in private sector? Go for Ph.D.? Or go back to your country and find a job there?

    Many U.S. cities like San Francisco and Honolulu have large Asian population. Yet, there isn't any Asian planner or any other civil servant that I know of. APA and other planning-related associations always emphasize that profession of planning should include more minorities and women in the job places but in reality, planning is still a white-predominant profession. What are you Asian planners in U.S. doing? What are your career aspirations?
    Many Asian students are probably on scholarship bonds from their governments and would be required to return to their home countries to work after graduation.

    Do realise that the planning systems in the States are quite different from say UK and even Asia. Thus what you might perceive to be "planning" or "engineering" or "design" in the States are termed and viewed differently elsewhere. From what I gather through my interactions with the Chinese students, urban planning in China is called "Shi4 Qu1 Gui1 Hua4", which translated directly means City Beautification. Chinese planners do the equivalent of Landscape Architects, Urban Designers and Architects as "planning" in China is very much about designing the city rather than focus on maintaining setbacks, rooflines, etc. So when they speak about planning, they're probably talking about designing new suburbs, urban regeneration and the like, rather than adhering to certain planning laws, etc.

    If you're talking about Asian-born Americans working in the States, it's a different issue altogether.
    Last edited by joshww81; 25 Dec 2007 at 11:16 PM.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian sisterceleste's avatar
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    I'm a Transportation Planner and encounter many Asians in the field. They tend to gravitate to the travel forecasting field.
    You darn tootin', I like fig newtons!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I worked 10 years with a Filipino planner in a small FL county. Unfortunately, she died from cancer about 10 years ago. She was younger than me. She was our comprehensive planning person. But other than that one planner, nope, haven't encountered any other asians in the field. Many more in engineering, though.

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