Faculty Profile: Barry Y. Chung
Having once been an international student, Professor Barry Chung has researched discrimination and multiculturalism through educational psychology for over two decades. As the first member of his family to receive a PHD, he credits his international background and multicultural exposure to his increasing passion for his field of research. Having travelled all over America and East Asia, his latest stop is at IU as a professor and a director of the Counseling Psychology Ph. D. Program.
As the youngest of five children, Chung said getting higher education required sacrifice from his parents and elder siblings. With his parents being immigrants from Mainland China to Hong Kong, the family was without financial resources. One of his older sisters quit elementary school when she was only 11 years-old to work full-time in the garment industry to help the family. They lived in a studio apartment where all five children slept on the top level of a bunk bed while his parents slept on the bottom. His family is the ideal example of humble, hardworking people who overcame these obstacles.
With only two universities in Hong Kong at the time, Chung said choosing the National Taiwan Normal University for his undergraduate studies was a major turning point in his life. Not only was his interest in educational psychology and counseling offered, but the university was able to provide greater international connections than Hong Kong was capable of at the time.
After graduation and working as a counselor in a middle school for a year, he took the opportunity to travel abroad and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for his graduate studies in counseling and educational psychology.
One of his greatest challenges as an international student was accepting that he might never become as fluent in the language as a native English speaker. Even though he has now lived in America longer than any other country, he sometimes still feels socially discrimination as an immigrant, a minority, and as a gay man. Whether it was being ignored at a restaurant or criticized in his students’ anonymous feedback for being too “Asian,” he feels intolerance still exists in the United States.
His life’s goal has become overcoming discrimination through multiculturalism and counseling. He believes that interest in diversity benefits everyone, and people suffer whether they are the oppressor or the oppressed.
Instead of focusing on identity as a minority, he says people should focus more on their privileges and that as an international student or as an immigrant, acceptance is embracing that you will never be “perfect,” but instead commit to a life-long journey. He is grateful for the eye-opening travel opportunities and vast cultural exposure he has experienced throughout his career.
After attending graduate school where he received his Masters and PhD in Educational and Counseling Psychology, Chung taught at Georgia State University for twelve years and at Northeastern four years as a professor and head administrator of the academic department.
Despite spending most of his life in major cities like Atlanta and Boston, Chung said Bloomington has been great place to explore, even calling it a “well-kept secret.” He said the arts and entertainment are much more affordable and accessible in Bloomington, and the closeness to nature has been a plus. He was pleasantly shocked to find deer in his backyard on the first week of his arrival.
Dr. Chung’s advice to students is not to focus only on getting good grades, but on learning. His feels his success can be attributed to abiding by that rule. Dr. Chung has been invited to speak at conferences all over the world in the coming years. He is most excited about the opportunity to speak in Paris in 2014. His dream after retirement is to travel beyond where his career has already taken him.