Boston College Celebrates APAHM
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 01:03
Boston College will highlight its diversity next month as it commemorates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) a celebration of Asian identity and culture on campus. Sponsored by the Asian Caucus (AC), a confederation of Asian cultural clubs, as well as the AHANA center, APAHM will feature a variety of events that recognize the achievements of Asian Americans and celebrate the vitality of their culture.
“There have been many Asian-Americans who have made an impact in American life,” said APAHM chair Jenny Yuan, A&S ’13. “We want to bring that to the BC community. We want to instill that pride in students of that heritage.”
This year’s celebration takes on particular significance as the 10th year of APAHM at BC. “This is our 10th year anniversary, which is really exciting for us,” Yuan said. “It’s a way to see how far we’ve progressed throughout those 10 years.”
“We’re one of many ethnic heritage months here, but this is the longest running, and that’s something we take pride in,” said Princess Tavares, A&S ’13 and another APAHM chair.
They attribute this success at least in part to the unified nature of the event. According to APAHM Assistant Chair Caila Quinn, CSOM ’14, “Something that’s really unique about APAHM is it really brings together the whole AC community. We work with at least 15 student and professional organizations. It’s a collaborative effort.”
The theme of this year’s event, “A Decade of Discovery,” celebrates the culture’s history as well as its future. The kickoff event on April 3, for instance, will feature television personality and chef Ming Tsai “This Asian-American figure made an impact in the culinary industry, which isn’t something we see a lot,” Yuan said. “It can inspire us to extend our view beyond what we normally view as Asian.”
Service also plays a role in the celebration. An Applebee’s fundraiser on April 4 and a student cooking competition on April 14 will raise money for Second Harvest Asia, an organization that establishes food pantries across Asia, particularly in areas affected by natural disasters. According to Quinn, these service initiatives reflect this year’s theme: “In the past, it used to be very popular to travel to Asia, until the world wars, when much of Asia was basically destroyed. By highlighting the ‘Decade of Discovery’ and traveling back into the past, we’re honoring the history of the Asian Pacific while also giving back to those whose lives would be very different if history didn’t play out as it did.”
The month also emphasizes multiculturalism. For Quinn, who identifies as HAPA, or half-Asian, half-American, “Being half American and half Asian, this is a great way to work on realizing your identity as an Asian, and celebrate that with people like you.”
“This is one of BC’s only events that really celebrates this sort of identity,” Tavares said. “We’re seeing in student demographics that the number of people identifying as multiracial is growing.” Events such as “Who Am I?”, which will challenge the audience to identify the racial background of a multiethnic panel, with a date as a reward for the winner, celebrate this growing community.
They acknowledge the difficulties. “In the past, being multiracial was seen as a negative thing, but we want to highlight it as a positivething, especially for the younger generation,” explained Thai An Kim, a graduate student and APAHM Advisory Board member. Yuan expressed a similar sentiment: “It can be difficult growing up as an Asian-American-there’s a constant push and pull of identity. But this event shows that you can weld the two cultures together and celebrate both.”
The coordinators encourage even those who do not identify with any Asian culture to participate. “APAHM is a celebration of Asian Pacific heritage, but in that scope, we’re not just limiting it to those of that heritage,” Tavares added.
“We’re opening the Asian Pacific to everyone, to look and see the beauty that we see in our culture,” notes Quinn. “The food is free. The events are free. We want everyone to feel welcome, just as we feel welcomed at BC.”
“We look back at the last 10 years, and we’re looking forward to the next 10,” Kim said. Yuan added, “We want to celebrate, educate, and inspire.”