AAPIHM kicks off, celebrates diverse identities within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community

The month-long celebration will feature a mix of in-person and virtual activities.

by Manasi Singh | 5/4/21 2:00am


The month of celebration kicked off on Saturday with a Bubble Tea Grab-N-Go event.

Source: Courtesy of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership

The Office of Pluralism and Leadership, in collaboration with other on-campus organizations, will celebrate the identities, history and shared experiences of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community by hosting the annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month from May 1 to May 27. The theme for the month — “Elements” — seeks to emphasize the different groups of people, cultures and backgrounds that exist under the umbrella term AAPI, according to AAPIHM student coordinator Karen Zheng ’22.

Zheng said that the AAPIHM planning committee focused its planning this year on the inclusion of students from the different nationalities, ethnicities and backgrounds that make up the AAPI community. She noted the importance of taking into consideration the different identities that coexist within the broad term of AAPI.

“This year's theme, ‘Elements’, basically highlights our individuality and the individual people in the community. It also celebrates our shared identity since the community is made up of individual elements,”  Zheng said.

OPAL program coordinator Kayanat Paracha, who serves as an advisor for the AAPIHM committee, said that the student committee resumed regular meetings in the winter term and picked up on last year’s planning after AAPIHM 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic. She added it was particularly important to have a comprehensive, cohesive month of celebrations this year after missing last year’s events. 

“It's really amazing that [students] are so motivated to do things in person and also virtually,” Paracha said. “They're really thinking about how to engage the entire Dartmouth community.”  

Paracha said that as part of the effort to make the celebrations more inclusive, the committee decided to adopt a variety of virtual and in-person events — from a panel discussion to a gala — to expand accessibility to students enrolled both on-campus and remotely. 

“We want to invite the rest of the Dartmouth community to come engage in dialogue with us to be able to educate one another, just to build knowledge about the experiences that students, faculty and staff on campus have,” Paracha said.

The Collis Governing Board will help organize Trivia in the Air on May 6 in a hybrid game night held on the Cutter-Shabazz Lawn and on Zoom. The trivia night, according to AAPIHM’s website, will be focused on AAPI history, traditions, food and pop culture. 

The committee has also prepared a panel of activists and scholars from the AAPI community to discuss the recent spike in anti-Asian violence, the importance of intersectionality and history and the struggle for justice, per OPAL’s website. Margo Okazawa-Rey, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Elene Lam and Betsy Yoon will sit on the panel and will hold a public Q&A session after the panel. The event will take place on May 10.

In collaboration with Humans of Dartmouth — an organization supported by the Tucker Center that interviews community members and publicizes their stories — the AAPIHM committee will also conduct an interview series on the experiences and stories of students in the AAPI community throughout the month of May.

The month of activities will conclude on May 27 with a virtual gala co-hosted by OPAL and the Dartmouth Asian Pacific American Alumni Association. The gala will feature speeches from Dartmouth alumni and celebrate the accomplishments of seniors graduating in June.

This past Saturday, students had the opportunity to stop by the Bubble Tea Grab-N-Go event on Collis patio to get a free bubble tea and learn more about the events that AAPIHM will be hosting throughout May. 

Attendee Tianxiao Wang ’24 said that the bubble tea event was a great way to meet new people in a casual setting.

“Meeting up with friends to go to the bubble tea event is a great way to relax, and we always meet new people while waiting in line,” Wang said. “Before and after the event, I often see people that I haven’t seen in a while, so it is a great way to catch up with people too.”

President of the Dartmouth Asian Organization Alex Soong ’21 said that he hopes the Dartmouth community will use this month to start the conversation and continue discussing and advocating for AAPI “diversity, equity and inclusion.” He added that the increase in violence against the AAPI community in the past year has made this year’s AAPIHM even more important.

“For a very long time, we have not been heard and have been suppressed under things like the model minority myth,” Soong said. “We shouldn’t contain this [activism] to just this month.”

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