May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month and has been celebrated as a month long event since 1992 to commemorate Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869. In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month long celebration as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.
How you can celebrate it! (whether you’re Asian or not):
1. Visit an Asian community. Los Angeles has many areas such as Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Thai Town & Filipinotown, but here Kearny Mesa is where everything comes together in San Diego. “Convoy Street” has become San Diego’s own Asian community. If you picked up this magazine from any of the restaurants or markets from that area, I’m sure you’re on the right track!
2. Taste a new cuisine or food. Have you ever tried Filipino, Thai or Mongolian food? Maybe you can try a new dish you’ve never considered having at a restaurant, or better yet, find a recipe online and take a shot at cooking it at home.
3. Research more about the culture or religion. You can visit the Chinese Historical Museum in Downtown which exhibits the life Chinese people had here. Did you know that the location of this museum also used to be where San Diego’s Chinatown was? There is also the Mingei Museum and Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. Additionally, you can spend a great deal of time online learning about the diverse cultures of Asia and Asian Americans in San Diego. Even if you don’t consider yourself a very religious person, try attending an Asian temple or church and see how their system differs from your own.
4. Learn a new language. Even if it’s just basic greetings, try learning one of the many languages spoken in Asia. If you’re up for a challenge, maybe you can even learn the writing system and how to write your name. I recommend attending a language meet up where you can meet other people studying that language or people from another country who would be happy to teach you about their culture & language.
5. Talk to someone of Asian descent. Whether it’s a relative, friend or an employee from a restaurant, listen to their stories about the obstacles they faced as immigrants coming from Asia or as Asian Americans who were raised here. Find out what it is they follow in life and how it differs from an American’s ideals or lifestyle.
6. Listen to music or watch a movie. You can learn a lot about another culture through their entertainment industry and its content. Have you ever seen a Bollywood movie or heard the latest hits from Vietnam? While they may seem difficult to find, we’re fortunate to have sites like YouTube where you can find almost anything, and the San Diego Asian Film Festival which showcases many movies. AMC Fashion Valley also has been frequently showing popular films straight from Korea’s theaters!
7. Reflect. If you are from or were raised in an Asian country, are of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, if your friends are, or even if you don’t have an ounce of Asian blood in you, take this time to reflect. Think about how your ethnicity affects your daily life and of those around you. Look back into how Asians have impacted our community and the contributions they have made in the United States.