Skip To Main Content
An Asian girl holding a stuffed hedgehog

In September of this year, we launched a new “community voices” series to acknowledge history and heritage months. In this series, we ask community members from the group being acknowledged to write short essays about the meaning of the history/heritage month.

For Asian American, Native Hawai’ian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May), Cynthia Park, an AUSD parent and VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Alameda's PTA Council, shared the following essay:

May is Asian American, Native Hawai’ian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which began as a weeklong celebration in 1977 and expanded to a month-long event in 1992. The month of May was chosen to acknowledge the first Japanese people to immigrate to the US in May 1843 and commemorate the Chinese Americans who completed laying the tracks of the transcontinental railroad in May 1869.
Asian American, Native Hawai’ian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) is a term that attempts to inclusively unify individuals from over 50 ethnic identities, each with their own native culture and circumstances on how they were touched by American colonialism. Another emerging term is Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA), which more explicitly includes South Asians. There is still no perfect term that both unites us all while preserving our individual stories.
Alameda has an incredibly diverse multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and multilingual AANHPI/APIDA community, which includes:
  • 30%+ of our students who identify as Asian, Filipino, or Native Hawai’ian or Pacific Islander, all with their unique academic and social-emotional accomplishments and challenges. I am beyond humbled by the accomplishments and wisdom of today’s student leaders.
  • 16% of our teachers, who by virtue of showing up to work everyday as themselves with their lived experiences, help our students and families feel that they belong. I only had two teachers who looked like me between pre-K and graduate school, and I am forever grateful that my children are exposed to diverse educators in Alameda.
  • Parents and community members who fastidiously step up for volunteer roles and board positions that contribute towards more inclusive school environments.
  • Families who recently immigrated and do not have adequate translation services because they do not speak or read one of the most read and spoken languages in Alameda. I was raised by immigrants who came to America with a few suitcases, hopes for a better future, and limitations, both real and perceived, because of their limited English, financial, and social capital.
I celebrate this month in several ways: deeply reflecting on my own identity and journey, showcasing stories of social justice activists who fought for the visibility and validation of our experiences, and hosting art projects at my kids’ school that pay tribute to contemporary Asian American artists that challenge the notion of Asian Art being limited to Chinese calligraphy and paintings of tigers. Here are some ways for you to honor this special month and honor us all year round:
  • Deepen your understanding of Alameda’s history
  • Check out the Library of Congress AANHPI Heritage Month site, which features stories of AAHNPI community members
  • Understand and challenge the model minority stereotype (Video from TED-Ed)
  • Celebrate AANHPI/APIDA leaders, artists, and athletes, who had to overcome cultural and systemic barriers to achieve excellence in these fields
I am so honored to be a member of this community, and to be entrusted with holding and carrying out the dreams of our children and ancestors.