News, On Campus

Students Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month With Speeches and Performances

Coming to Boston College, Sophia Barrett hoped to find a more welcoming environment where she could navigate her Asian identity. Barrett said she found just that through the many student organizations comprising BC’s Asian Caucus.

“What’s remarkable about these groups is not just their celebrations or specific cultures, but the welcoming and inclusive communities they cultivate,” Barrett, MCAS ’24, said.

Students and faculty gathered in Gasson 100 on Tuesday evening to kick off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in a ceremony filled with performing arts, cultural offerings, and heartfelt speeches.

Barrett delivered a speech about her adoration for the Asian community she found at BC.

“There are many things that I’ve come to love and admire about the Asian community,” Barrett said. “From the kindness and mentorship that the community shows to each other to the endless laughs and breakthroughs that I’ve been provided.”

Various joint events within the BC Asian Caucus allow Asian students to not only learn about their own cultures, but other Asian cultures as well. This creates unity among different organizations and allows Asian students to embrace their identities, Barrett said.

Before finding her place at BC, Alyssa Santos, LSEHD ’25, said she found it difficult to embrace her identity as someone of mixed race. She read a personal poem about her experience as an Asian American.

“There is simply not enough of me to part into the three directions I wish to take,” Santos said. “And the choice of one means that I must turn my back on two others.”

While grappling with her identity was initially difficult, she soon found a community of people who taught her to embrace herself, she shared.

“Rooting myself into this earth, I make my stance,” Santos read from her poem. “First and last. I decide that I am all or nothing. As I finally look at myself and see more than just me, but the pieces of you that I love too.”

The ceremony also included student vocal musings, a traditional Chinese lion dance, and a performance from BC’s K-pop Dance Club.

Wan Sonya Tang, director of the Asian American Studies Program, spoke about how she has often struggled to celebrate her cultural heritage amid stereotypes and prejudice.

“Embracing an identity that comes from a set of stereotypes and marks you as a minority is not always easy,” Tang said. “But it is much easier when you do so in the company of others.”

Tang stressed the importance of finding a community of people who share the same cultural heritage or have experienced marginalization. If nothing else, finding any community that shows appreciation and respect can be incredibly helpful, she said.

“My identity as an Asian American woman who teaches and writes about Spain has been happiest when it has allowed me to connect with others,” Tang said. “To sit down with a strong community that sees through stereotypes and shares the burden when things are hard.”

April 3, 2024

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