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Celebrating Asian Lives and Legacies

By Manal Rashid

Throughout the month of May, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is recognized in the United States as a national celebration. This month celebrates the history, culture, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, along with recognizing issues that are still faced by the community.

Artwork by Sabeena Ramadarie

AAPI Heritage Month celebrates the history, achievements and legacies of Asian Americans.

The attempt to officially recognize AAPI month began in the United States in the late 1970s when New York Representative Frank Horton introduced a resolution that proposed the recognition of the first 10 days of May as Asian and Pacific American Heritage Week. It was not approved until 1990 when it was requested that the president declare the first ten days of May as AAPI week. This initiation grew to become a celebratory month nationwide.

This celebration of the month emphasizes the importance of Asian Americans' and Pacific Islanders’ contributions to America’s culture and achievements. Students at NHP weighed in on why they think it’s so important to commemorate this month.

“Everyone deserves representation and the privilege of being noticed in a special light, and I think AAPI month gives the Asian American and Pacific Islander community an opportunity to have that special representation especially since discrimination and belittlement sadly have a place in many communities, including ours,” sophomore Mia Cho said.

“I believe that our school’s students have tried to implement some aspects of AAPI awareness throughout the building, for example, cultural week,” sophomore Leona Paul said.

“In my ninth grade global classes, I have many opportunities within the curriculum to discuss the cultural and political contributions of Asians throughout world history. It is great to make connections and point out how some of the math concepts we study today date back to the Gupta Empire and the fact that something as formidable as gunpowder was invented by the Chinese. This year, we analyzed whether Disney’s "Moana" was an accurate depiction of Polynesian migrations and peoples,” said social studies teacher Ms. Madigan.

However, some students think there’s not enough emphasis on the importance of AAPI month.

“I’m not sure our school has done anything to address AAPI month, they might have talked about it on the loudspeaker once before, but the fact that I don’t have any recollection of the such attests to the extent to which our school has gone to acknowledge the month,” sophomore Nicole Donnelly said.

Moving forward, NHP can take steps to improve inclusivity in the largely diverse community. Even as individuals, students can try to learn from their peers about the experiences, cultures, and histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“We’ve been discussing, as a department, how to address months and weeks relative to the celebration of groups, peoples, and cultures in social studies classes more uniformly in the next school year. One of the challenges we’ve faced is the timing of certain months with the timing of the school year,” said Ms. Madigan. “AAPI Heritage Month is May. For over two weeks the school is administering College Board AP Exams all day, students are out of classes for exams and review, and we aren’t allowed to make extra announcements. Therefore again, the month flies by and it’s a challenging time in a high school to create time and space.”

“There is always room for growth in NHP when it comes to Asian American inclusivity, and a suggestion I have is working more AAPI voices and works of literature that celebrate AAPI accomplishments into the school's curriculum,” Donnelly said.


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