Each May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a celebration of the contributions, influence, culture, and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843. It also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Most of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
Here at TC, we’re spending the month amplifying our AAPI community members’ voices, breaking our echo chambers surrounding the Asian-American experience and history, and conversing about how we can support and uplift the AAPI community beyond May.
Here are 6 TC Community members who are proud of their heritage:
Viktoria Ngo is a high school student from Los Angeles, California, and a member of TC’s Advisory Board. “I think what makes me proud of my heritage and of being Asian American is that I get to show off such a strong asset of my family and my identity,” she said. “Obviously, both of my parents came to the US from Vietnam and worked so hard to get me to where I am today, so anything to show where they came from and what made me the person I am today, I am proud to show and that includes my heritage.”
Dyuti Pandya is a final-year law student from Mumbai, India. “Identifying my ethnicity as a South Asian, but deriving my heritage as an Indian is something which I hold unique, or at least used to. India was regarded as the land of intellectual scholars bridging the gap between the eastern and western civilizations. To be from a country that valued reason and science at one point to establish a connection between the past and future helps me be proud of my Indian heritage. Presently, the events transpiring have divulged the true essence of how India used to be before. India has always been regarded as a country with orchestrating various elements that built a nation together. That is what makes me embrace the positive characteristics of this historical perseverance. I look upon this aspect with great value. I wish to see that every Indian held onto during the past few decades of progress and reason will be something we can contribute towards in enhancing the yet so developing nation again. I am proud of the efforts and struggles leaders took to bring about a change in society during those eras.”
Isaac is a high school senior from Houston, TX, and a former TC Intern. He is a self-proclaimed foodie who is passionate about mental health, pop culture, and LGBTQ+ inclusivity. “I feel proud of my heritage when I see my people fight the fight together,” he said. “Especially during this past year, I’ve been inspired by the people around me to speak my mind without repercussions. This overwhelming sense of unity, which I don’t think is seen enough in our divided society, warms my heart so much.”
Xixi Wang is a graphic designer from New York City. When it comes to her heritage, she thinks of her parents. “I’m proud of how far my parents have come and grateful for how much they’ve sacrificed so that I can be where I am today,” she said. “They’re the reason why I feel so connected to my heritage. It definitely has taken me my entire life to appreciate my Chinese roots, and it’s still something I continuously work on. Within the past year, I’ve come to realize that it’s so important to maintain a sense of pride and unity within the AAPI community, despite everything going on in the world, because we have so much to be proud of.”
Fiona Lin is a student from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is a member of the TC advisory board. Fiona is proud of her Chinese heritage because of the welcoming people, the delicious cuisines, and the rich history. “From the red packets on New Year’s Day to mooncakes served during the Mid-Autumn Festival, these traditions are celebrated to commemorate our ancestors and the Chinese folktales that have been told for years and years,” she said. “As China is arguably one of the earliest civilizations, I have always found interest in studying its past and present; the transformation from traditionalism to the modern world today intrigues me like nothing else. My pride essentially comes in different ways, through the language, literature, arts, food, and many more.”
Sia Minhas is a high school student from Long Island, New York. She is a member of the TC advisory board and is passionate about law, writing, reading, film, and music. Sia is proud of the various components of her heritage. “My heritage carries so much history, and it’s been a large contributor to my identity,” she said. “I feel tied to my heritage as I feel tied to my ancestors. It's a commonality we share. Traditions, rituals, beliefs, it’s like a rope that tethers us together. I grew up eating South Asian cuisine, listening to Bollywood music, and praying in Gurdwaras. I learned stories of my grandparents, my religion, and the foundation of my culture. It makes me so proud to be who I am.”
How are you honoring AAPI Heritage month? How can we amplify AAPI voices in our communities? Join us in Geneva to continue the conversation and follow The Conversationalist on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok and check out Conversation Nation for new content every day.