Celebrating diverse cultures during AAPI Heritage Month

Katarzyna Nguyen, Spotlight Editor

For years, Liberty has had a student body full of different cultures and beliefs, but to many, the school has failed to give proper representation to marginalized groups. This year, Liberty ended this pattern with the celebration of different heritage months throughout the year, from Black History Month to Hispanic Heritage Month to Women’s History Month. In May, Liberty is celebrating a group that many students are a part of, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). 

AAPI Heritage Month is celebrated annually in May. This year, Celebrate Your Culture Club (CYC) and Equity Club plan to celebrate AAPI students and bring awareness to their history and heritage.

“We’re going to make a presentation talking about AAPI history, heritage, and important people and include some sources for people to educate themselves further. We also plan to bring food into the club to get people more involved in learning about AAPI culture,” CYC president Leila Klass said.

“We’re planning to make a map of Asia and the Pacific Islands, and people can put a sticky note with their name on the map to show where they are from and celebrate Liberty’s diverse community,” Equity Club co-president Kruthi Duraisamy said. 

Some AAPI students also had ideas of their own in addition to the events going on at Liberty. 

We should have a Wear Your Cultural Clothes Day,” senior Mishaal Khan said.

“There should be a video shown or an LSN segment about AAPI students’ experiences at Liberty,” another response said. 

For many AAPI students, their heritage has greatly shaped who they are today and how they express themselves and believe that it should also be acknowledged during AAPI Heritage Month.

“My heritage and the experiences I’ve gone through with discrimination have shaped not only my own character but also how I treat others,” junior Ava Wong said.

“My parents are immigrants from Vietnam, so growing up, I’ve gained a lot of values from them such as being disciplined and acting kind and sympathetic towards others, and with that, it has helped me be more open-minded to other people’s cultures as well,” senior Melody Le said.

Many AAPI students at Liberty believe the celebration of themselves and their culture should not be limited to just one month. A number of AAPI students at Liberty believe that more work needs to be done to increase representation at the school, starting with the simple things.

Add chopsticks to the utensils bin at lunch,” an anonymous student said. 

Some students believe that the L’Cafe serving a variety of different Asian cuisine should be a part of Liberty’s celebration of AAPI Heritage Month and beyond.

“Limited-time dishes in the L’Cafe both expose people to AAPI heritage and give them some reason to like it. Asian and Pacific Islander cuisine is unique, diversifies students’ lunches, and above all, it is tasty,” one anonymous student said.

“If the L’Cafe added menu items for AAPI Month, the food should be made authentically and use the right ingredients,” another anonymous response said.

A few AAPI students believed that there should be some changes made to the curriculum.

“They should offer courses to teach about AAPI history or at least an alliance club since there are so many AAPI people at our school,” senior Emma Decasa said.

“There should be more books written by authors with diverse backgrounds, including AAPI authors, instead of only learning about books written by white men,” junior Lianne Zamar said. 

As documented on the news, there has been a rise in hate crimes against AAPI people in the past couple years, and many students feel that it needs to be addressed during Liberty’s celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.

“We’ll definitely talk about that and spread resources about how to help during our meetings and on our Instagram to help play a part in stopping hate crimes against AAPI people,” Class said.

“Celebrating AAPI Month helps to spread awareness about hate crimes and educate everyone that we’re just people too,” Le said, “A lot of hate crimes happened because of ignorance and racism, so by promoting open-mindedness toward Asians, we can help reduce those hate crimes.”