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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Student organizations celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This year’s celebrations included film screenings, trivia and a Lei Day.

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From April 26 to May 25, several student organizations — including the Chinese Student Association, the Dartmouth Asian American Studies Collective and the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander student group Hōkūpa`a — hosted events to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Activities included trivia, film screenings and dances.

AAPIHM celebrates the identities, history and shared experiences of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth. Hōkūpa`a co-president Li’ua Tengan ’25 said that students in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community felt “really supported” by AAPIHM programming. 

On May 1, Hōkūpa`a hosted an event for Lei Day, a Hawaiian holiday in which celebrants create leis to commemorate Hawaiian culture. Hōkūpa`a AAPIHM chair Amedee Conley-Kapoi ’26 said leis are a “head adornment” that “incorporate different flowers and ferns and greenery,” with different flowers representing different Hawaiian islands. 

“When we make leis, it really tells a story of who we are as Hawaiian people, as well as what our culture is and where we come from,” Tengan said.

The celebrations began on April 26 with a boba tea kickoff event on the Collis Center patio, according to a flier from the Office of Pluralism and Leadership. On April 30, DAASC screened “Queer Vietnamese Shorts” at the Hopkins Center, the same flier stated.

DAASC member Rachel Kahng ’25 said DAASC aims to “fill in the gaps” in areas where the College has not adequately supported the Asian American community.

“What we try to do is address concerns that the College and institution won’t  — like Asian American history, for instance, through the avenue of … queer Vietnamese short films,” Kahng said.

On May 5, DAASC hosted a career panel for careers outside of a “traditional path,” according to DAASC member Jessica Yang ’25. The event was titled “Careers in Community” and co-hosted by Josephine Ong, a Ph.D student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Gender Studies Department, according to the OPAL flier. 

“[There are a] few areas that Dartmouth students are led to believe … are the only options,” Yang said. “So that was really cool to hear about community-building careers.”

Yang added that she wanted to bring “critical dialogue” into AAPIHM. 

“It’s important to celebrate where we are and celebrate our culture,” Yang said. “A crucial part of that is recognizing the lack of infrastructure and support that we have for Asian American students and the whole entire Pan-Asian community on campus.”

On May 12, Hōkūpa`a hosted its annual Lū’au celebration, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth. Conley-Kapoi said the theme for this year’s Lū’au was “Moananuiākea.” or “the vast Pacific.”

“This year we wanted to represent not only Hawaii, but all of these students here who come from so many rich and diverse cultures within the Pacific,” Conley-Kapoi said.

Tengan said the Lū’au included food, live performances, games and “great vibes.” She noted that Hōkūpa`a has created “a pretty good reputation” for itself and the events that it holds, and that the group has “grown a ton.” The Lū’au drew approximately 750 attendees this year. 

“This year, we had a lot more resources than we did last year and a lot more funding, which we weren’t able to secure in the past,” Tengan said. “That made a huge, huge difference.”

On May 15, the DAASC hosted a talk by University of Pennsylvania Asian American studies program director David Eng on Asian American mental health. Yang said Eng is a renowned pillar of the Asian American studies field.

The month’s celebrations concluded with a Collis Governing Board trivia event on May 23 and a summer grill hosted by the CSA on May 25. 

Kahng said AAPIHM programming from student organizations centered around a “celebration of culture.” According to the OPAL flier, the Dartmouth India Association, Korean Student Association, Pakistani Student Association and Thai Student Association also all held events. 

“It makes me happy that we are able to have programming like this to facilitate conversation and get involvement from our community,” Kahng said. “We can create spaces where Asian Americans feel comfortable talking about what it’s like being an Asian American — at Dartmouth or in the United States.”