This month, the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! While we aren’t able to highlight every one of these amazing and diverse cultures, each week will feature an overall theme with related information. Today, we’re talking about AAPI history.
When we say AAPI, what do we mean? AAPI is the acronym for Asian American and Pacific Islanders. This includes many different countries spanning the entire continent of Asia as well as the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Let’s break that down:
Continent of Asia:
- Northern Asia (Russia, Siberia)
- Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan)
- Western Asia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen)
- Southern Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet)
- Eastern Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan)
- South East Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam)
- Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands)
- Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federal States of Micronesia)
- Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island) (list source)
If you’re counting, that’s nine different regions and more than 80 countries! All feature their own rich histories and unique cultures that you could spend forever studying.
Now, you may have heard AAPI referred to as something different, specifically Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. While this is also accepted, some argue that grouping Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders together can ignore the different struggles each group faces. Because of that, we’re using AAPI.
Got all of that? Good. Now let’s talk about AAPI Heritage Month.
In the United States, this month is designated as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to recognize the impact and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans on our history, achievements, and culture. May was selected to mark the first Japanese to immigrate to the US in May of 1843 and then the completion of the transcontinental railroad, primarily built by Chinese immigrants, on May 10, 1869.
Resources to Explore
Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong by Dawn B. Mabalon and Gayle Romasanta
This book tells the story of Larry Itliong, a Filipino American labor leader, and his lifelong fight for a farmworkers union. Itliong’s work helped usher in one of the most significant American social movements of all time—the struggle for farmworkers’ rights—and its most enduring union, the United Farm Workers.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
In a brightly colored board book, perfect for younger children, Newbery Honoree Grace Lin tells the tale of a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each family member lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to celebrate. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade at the end!
The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho
Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea–generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. When Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma’s guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean’s many gifts.
A Different Pond by Bao Phi
As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
More titles here: https://bookshop.org/books/a-different-pond/9781623708030
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
Some older Girl Scouts might know George Takei from his role as Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek or from his quips on social media, but many people don’t know that George and his family were forced to live in an internment camp during World War II simply because they were Japanese Americans. This graphic memoir tells the story of his family’s internment and the racism they experienced at the hands of the US government.
- The long history of racism against Asian Americans in the U.S.
- 30 Revolutionary Asians and Pacific Islanders to Celebrate for AAPI Heritage Month
- Asian Americans Then and Now
- Modern History – The 2021 Census Bureau: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May 2021
- Asia Society At Home Family Activities
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
- Asian/Pacific Islander/American Association of Greater Rochester
- Asian Indian Community Foundation of Western New York
- Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
Challenges to Complete
AAPI Celebration Challenge from Girl Scouts of Central Texas
Last year, GSCTX put together a patch challenge focused on celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The activities included are a great way to learn more about AAPI culture, history, people, and more! Once completed, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
Girl Scout Values: Anti-Racism Patch
The Girl Scouts Anti-Racism Patch is a reflection that we are committed to our Girl Scout values that foster a community of justice, fairness, and inclusion. During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, consider using the list of ideas and resources provided to earn the patch with your girl or troop and when you are ready, sign our Girl Scouts Stands Against Racism Pledge.
GSWNY acknowledges and condemns the recent surge in violence against the Asian community across the country. We uplift and amplify the Asian American Federation’s statement with Asian, Black, and Hispanic Association nonprofits condemning attacks and calling for solutions. We want to reiterate to all girls, volunteers, alums, supporters, families, and staff that we do not tolerate racial injustice, and we strive to create a welcoming space where all of our members feel they belong. Girl Scout members stand up and for the principles of the Girl Scout mission and law. You can find resources from the Asian American Federation here.