Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage

News subtitle

This year’s events kick off Thursday with bubble tea on the Collis patio.

Animation of moon and stars
Animation by LaDarius Dennison

Each spring, the Dartmouth community celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM). The monthlong series of educational programs, talks, and community-building events is designed to honor—and educate the Dartmouth community—about Asian Pacific American identity, history, and culture.

This year’s theme, “Constellations,” explores “the ways in which each member of the Asian American Pacific Islander community creates connections with each other and with other marginalized groups to form ‘constellations’ across the night sky,” says Karen Zheng ’22, who co-chairs the AAPIHM student committee with Deborah Jung ’24. “It symbolizes our collective strength in the face of adversity.”

Zheng, an English and creative writing major and member of South House, says she’s feeling both sentimental and excited about this year’s AAPIHM, the last one she will experience as a Dartmouth student. “In general, I love the excitement, fun, and generosity members of the community exude during May.”

For her part, Jung, a sociology major and a member of South House, says she is looking forward to the whole month, especially because it is her first year as co-coordinator.

“I hope that participants get a greater sense of the huge diversity within the AAPI community, and that people of many different cultural backgrounds under the AAPI within the community will feel celebrated,” she says. “Often, the ‘AAPI’ label is oversimplified to just refer to a few cultures and experiences, when in reality it’s a lot broader than that. I also hope that the month will build a stronger sense of unity both within the community and between other communities.”

The events kick off on Thursday, April 28, at 5 p.m. on the Collis patio, with bubble tea, mango lassi, and giveaways.

Here are some additional highlights:

Sunday, May 1

Lei Day, 2 p.m., Hood Museum, Russo Atrium, in collaboration with the Native American Program and Dartmouth PRIDE

Lei Day is recognized on the islands of Hawai’i as a celebration of culture and aloha spirit. Traditionally, people on each island create and wear distinct leis. At Dartmouth, students will gather in the Russo Atrium to hear from Elizabeth Coleman ’21, who is beginning an interactive exhibition of yarn leis. Elizabeth will guide attendees in making their own orchid and/or yarn leis. Snacks and drinks will be provided.

Saturday, May 7

Dance with the Stars Workshop, 3 to 4 p.m., HOP Rehearsal Room, in collaboration with the Dartmouth South Asian Student Association

Join the AAPIHM for a cultural dance workshop. Aksheta Kanuganti ’24 and Carolyn Yee ’25 will be teaching basic techniques and choreography. Dances will range from beginner-level Bollywood to Chinese Folk Dance. This workshop will be an opportunity to show students the different cultures across the Pan Asian community.

Tuesday, May 10

A conversation with Asian American Faculty, 7-8:30 p.m., Zoom, in collaboration with the Dartmouth South Asian Student Association

During this year’s celebration of AAPIHM, we hope to highlight faculty members at Dartmouth who have done exceptional work for Asian American studies. Carolyn Choi, Najwa Mayer, and MT Vallarta will share their work to the Dartmouth community and lead discussions in which we hope to prompt new ways of thinking about Asian American studies and the AAPI experience. In addition, there will be time for open Q&A from attendees, prioritizing Dartmouth students. By allowing students to reflect, process, and explore these topics, we hope students will personally connect with the focus of Asian American studies and build relationships with professors. 

Friday, May 13

A virtual event is planned with a speaker to be announced.

Sunday, May 22

AAPIHM Gala, 5:30 p.m., Hood Museum, Russo Atrium, in collaboration with the Dartmouth Asian Pacific American Alumni Association

The closing gala is the culminating event of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month as well as the academic year. It is a celebration of graduating members of Dartmouth’s Pan Asian Community and a recognition of others who have contributed through their service and achievements. This event is presented in collaboration with the Dartmouth Asian Pacific American Alumni Association, with speeches from notable alumni who will join us in welcoming the graduating students into the AAPI alumni community. We hope to highlight each student as one of the important and unique stars that make up the Constellation of the AAPI and Dartmouth community.

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