From AAPI Students: Why It’s Important To Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month


Clare Daudelin

“I think it’s very important to celebrate [AAPI month] because it allows for representation and appreciation for all the AAPI students here at La Salle,” sophomore Kayley Nguyen said.

Madeline Obuchowski, Staff Reporter

May 1 marks the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is dedicated to recognizing the influence and impact of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) on American history and culture. AAPI month allows us to take pause to acknowledge the history, culture, and contributions of those of Asian and Pacific Islander descent who have shaped modern America.

Junior Raphael De Leon, co-president of the AAPI club, also emphasized that it is important to “celebrate Asian culture and see how Asian culture is incorporated into our world and how prevalent it is.” 

“I think it’s very important to celebrate [AAPI month] because it allows for representation and appreciation for all the AAPI students here at La Salle,” said sophomore Kayley Nguyen. 

Throughout history, the AAPI community has faced racial and cultural discrimination. From the mistreatment of Chinese railroad workers in the 1800s, to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII with Executive order 9066, and the fact that immigrants of Asian descent were not able to vote until 1952. Unfortunately, racial discrimination continues today at the individual level. As an Asian American, I have been bullied for my culture, and what people assume about me because of my Asian heritage. What’s important about AAPI month is that we remember the past so that we can do better and continue to value the diversity that is around us. 

“I think it is important to celebrate each ethnicity and culture equally,” De Leon said. “It’s important to raise awareness about the culture and discrimination that we face, and the prejudice we face.” 

Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused an increase in hate crimes and discrimination against the AAPI community. Anti-Asian hate crimes increased 339 percent nationwide in 2021

“[The pandemic] opened up a lot of hatred towards us,” De Leon said. “And even in the past, we still received some sort of racism, there was always a racist prejudice. Now that they are more prevalent and obvious, I think it is really important to make sure our community is more welcoming and accepting.” 

For many, AAPI month is a way to celebrate their ethnicity and culture.

“It’s a way to celebrate the culture of everyone, and be recognized by people, and strengthen our community,” said De Leon.

Celebrating AAPI month at La Salle is a way to let students know that they are recognized, valued, accepted, and welcome in our community. 

During AAPI month, the halls are decorated with posters hung up by members of the AAPI club with the intention of spreading awareness and making students feel seen.

“I like looking at the posters, I thought it was pretty influential and pretty moving to see,” DeLeon said. “It definitely attacked the hate and stereotypes we got.”

“I think it just shows that La Salle actually cares about their students’ identities, where they come from, and appreciating their backgrounds,” said Nguyen.

Celebrating AAPI month is a way to help eliminate hate, while acknowledging the struggles the AAPI community has faced. Sharing our stories and our culture with others is important to recognizing our past and strengthening the diversity within our community. At La Salle, celebrating AAPI month is also a way to show students who do not identify as AAPI about our culture and expose them to the rich heritage of the AAPI community.

“I think it just really educates them about different cultures and just shows them how they can respect it,” said Nguyen.

There is no doubt that Asian and Pacific Islander culture has influenced American culture. Asian and Pacific Islander food is popular, as well as Asian and Pacific Islander music, fashion, and movies. From K-pop, to anime, to Kung Fu movies, to sushi, to ramen, and more, Asian and Pacific Islander culture is prevalent in America.  

It is also important to celebrate the diverse heritage even within the AAPI community. At La Salle, the students represent so many different countries and each bring something priceless to the community. Whether you’re Polynesian, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Japanese, or Thai, the list goes on, what you have to offer is important and celebrated. 

“I like celebrating [AAPI month] because it shows how similar my culture is to other people, and I feel like it brings me closer to people who I don’t normally see,” Nguyen said.

We want to celebrate our differences. AAPI month allows us to celebrate our different upbringings, cultures, traditions, and identities.