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Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month


In 1992, the month of May was officially designated as Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month. Of all calendar months, May was chosen for a celebration of AANHPI heritage to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the U.S. in May of 1843, as well as the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May of 1869, which was made possible by thousands of Chinese laborers.

Here’s how to connect with and learn about the AANHPI community this month:

  1. Enjoy virtual At-Home Adventures through Asia each Wednesday.
  2. Raise funds for AANHPI causes, like the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund.
  3. Read a book by an AANHPI author. Some favorites include: The Making of Asian America: A History, by Erika Lee, The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen and How to Pronounce Knife, by Souvankham Thammavongsa.
  4. Visit a virtual museum on AANHPI heritage, like the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in Manhattan’s Chinatown, or the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.
  5. Watch The Story of Our Song, the incredible story of a Pacific heritage song and the man who wrote it.
  6. Watch a movie by an Asian producer. Some great picks include “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018), by John Chu, “The Farewell” (2019), by Lulu Want and “Bitter Melon” (2018), by H.P. Mendoza. Or stream a documentary featuring AANHPI voices like "Free Chol Soo Lee," "Blurring the Color Line," and "Nam June Paik: Moon Is the Older TV."
  7. Order dinner from a local AANHPI restaurant.
  8. Check out the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center to learn about AANHPI culture and art.
  9. Listen to the fascinating story of March Fong Eu’s lifetime service, available in the California State Archives.
  10. Take an in-person or virtual cooking class on Asian cuisine.
  11. Meet Ruth Asawa, a pioneering modern artist known for her innovative abstract wire sculptures at the de Young museum.
  12. Learn about Asian American actors, activists, and other performers in Asian American Storytellers.
  13. Check out this awesome mural by Jenifer K Wofford. Can you find the names of your favorite Asian American artists here?
  14. Look up the photography of the Japanese Camera Pictorialists of California based in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo neighborhood and available in the J. Paul Getty Museum collection. You’ll find an eclectic mix of amateur and professional snapshots by Japanese hobbyists and serious photographers.
  15. Learn the citizenship stories of Asian Americans at the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center.

According to the Pew Research Center, a record 23 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia, as well as the Indian subcontinent. Use the tips provided here to learn about the unique and beautiful culture of the AANHPI community during the month of May and throughout the year.

Your Turn: How are you celebrating or observing AANHPI month? Tell us about it in the comments.

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