Multicultural Student Affairs, University Libraries and Asian student organizations on campus are hosting an array of events for Asian Pacific Islander South Asian American Heritage Month (APISAA), celebrated at NC State from March 15 to April 15.
Alexius Pearson, the assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs, is tasked with coordinating with and hosting space for culture-based organizations on campus.
Pearson said this year’s heritage month is being celebrated with the theme of “Unity Within Diversity,” which is the motto of NC State’s South Asian Student Association, EKTAA.
“To be in this space where the students are so loving, so open and just really big on connecting with each other, especially when you have the APISAA community — which is just so vast — is why we talk about unity within diversity,” Pearson said. “Specifically talking about the community and acknowledging the individuality of different cultures, the different religions and beliefs and still making a way to connect and celebrate and support each other.”
Although APISAA Heritage Month is nationally observed during the month of May, Pearson said the University opts to celebrate it between March and April with the purpose of celebrating Asian culture for an entire month before final exams begin.
“The community wanted to still be able to celebrate with their peers at the institution and not feel that kind of missing void to be able to connect to their community in a big way and have that space made for them and the acknowledgement of their rich history,” Pearson said.
University Libraries is presenting its Immersive Asian and Asian American Historical Timeline Exhibit on Thursday, March 23 from noon to 5 p.m. Victor Betts, student success librarian for special collections, is coordinating University Libraries’ APISAA Heritage Month events.
Betts curated the exhibit during his first year of working at NC State in 2019. He said there was no representation of Asian or Asian American history at the institutional level prior to his research. The timeline showcases the history and accomplishments of Asian and Asian American students at NC State.
“It just goes to show you how invisible or how much Asian and Asian American voices were sort of pushed to the margins,” even though physically, you can see Asian Americans on campus,” Betts said. “[Asians are] obviously, not on the forefront of when [many] think about the American South, [or] we think about the Triangle area. But when you actually look at the data, you can see a booming Asian American population, especially in the tech industry and entrepreneurship. Moving forward and thinking about the future, there's hopefully going to be more representation, more visibility and more conversations around the really great, culturally diverse population here in the American South.”
University Libraries is hosting a livestream presented by Betts and Dr. Kyung Hee Ha, assistant professor in foreign languages and literature. The pair will uncover archival documents surrounding the lives of Asian American students at NC State on March 24 at 1 p.m. on University Libraries’ YouTube channel.
Betts said photographs, manuscripts and important works from Asian and Asian American students, as well as notable University figures like the famous architect George Matsumoto will be unveiled, providing an immersive look into the history of Asian and Asian American students on campus.
Betts said the purpose of this livestream is to document the history of Asians and Asian Americans on campus.
“What we're trying to do is really highlight an invisible history of Asian Americans on campus that's really not discussed,” Betts said. “Also, really try to raise a little bit more awareness and get a little bit more representation at the institutional level about Asians and Asian Americans’ accomplishments and contributions. Not only to the campus, but also [to] the local area.”
Multicultural Student Affairs is hosting an APISAA-themed Chat N’ Chew event on March 30 from 6-7:30 p.m.
Pearson said Chat N’ Chew events take place during every cultural celebration and provide a comforting space to speak about cultural topics over food.
“It's a space where we get to learn and take things when we leave,” Pearson said. “Sometimes, we as a people just need a space to breathe. … This year, we're talking about a sense of belonging and community. ‘How do I see myself on this campus? How do I not? What would I like to see? How can we better support each other to create that community?’ It can be anything. … We cater it to what they need in that moment.”
The Filipino American Student Association is hosting a tea and game night on March 23. The organization is also hosting its annual gala in April. Further details will be revealed on their Instagram page.
Kaden Figuerres, a first-year studying biomaterials science and engineering, is a freshman representative in the Filipino American Student Association. Figuerres said the association is using its gala as a means to support a global cause, as all proceeds will go to the Philippine Nurses Association in the Triangle area.
“Especially for the Philippines, it's kind of an overlooked country in terms of their population here in the United States,” Figuerres said. “There's a lot of Filipinos that come here looking for better opportunities. So actually, that's why we're teaming up with the Philippine Nurses Association — a lot of Filipinos here come to the U.S. to become nurses. That's kind of a gateway point.”
The Vietnamese Student Association is hosting Viet Night, their annual cultural showcase, on Saturday, March 25 from 7-9 p.m. in Stewart Theater. The theme of this year’s showcase is “Saigon under the Stars,” named after the historical title of Ho Chi Minh City under France. Admission to the event is free.
Kristine Huynh, a third-year studying industrial engineering, is a member of the Vietnamese Student Association. She said APISAA month provides time for the Asian community to be united across different cultures and differences in the proximity of ties to Asia.
“APISAA month — you’re basically covering Asian culture,” Huynh said. “Being Asian — there’s a lot of, ‘You’re either second generation, first generation,’ but just celebrating our culture and where we’re from and learning about our background and just celebrating ourselves in general.”
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