Anahzsa Jones | Correspondent
On March 14, NC State began celebrating its first Asian American and Pacific Islander History Month. Asian Students In Alliance (ASIA) is hosting a series of events throughout the next four weeks in collaboration with other student groups focused on diversity and leadership.
These events serve to educate the NC State community on the history and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by sparking conversation and awareness through festivities and panels designed to challenge stereotypes and more.
“My goal is to give people a better sense of who the Asian American, Pacific Islander community is on campus. Know that we’re here, know that were not what stereotypes in the media often portray us as,” said Nina Ondona, a junior studying mechanical engineering, president of ASIA, and an officer in Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority.
National AAPI history month is actually celebrated in May, but because the spring semester will be over, ASIA decided to move it up on the calendar. It began last year as AAPI week in March, but due to the high volume of events and other student organizations wanting to participate, ASIA expanded it into the end of March and beginning of April.
This year, AAPI history month will contain events like Holi Festival and Viet Night on March 19, as well as panels like “More than Just a Stereotype” on March 22 and Asian Men and Masculinity on March 29.
One of the events that has already passed was “Model Minority Myth Busters.” A “model minority” is a minority group who is most often perceived as having a higher degree of success, whether that be socially, academically, or economically, than the average population. The panel focused on debunking this stereotype.
“It affects a lot more than just Asian Americans. It negatively affects other minority groups because it kind of says ‘oh Asian Americans are doing x, y, and z, why can’t African Americans do it, why can’t Hispanics do the same thing?’ It also negatively affects Asian Americans because it’s not true for everyone in our population,” said Ondona.
Just as there is a striking disparity between what is typically represented and what actually happened in the history of minorities such as African Americans and Hispanics, the same can be said for Asian Americans.
“We have to look at diversity as a holistic picture, and not just as segments. A lot of it is kind of intertwined,” said Natalie Nguyen, assistant director of the GLBT center.
AAPI History Month has the potential to be the start of a more inclusive, holistic view of diversity and what it means to be American, whether you be of African, Latino or Asian descent.
This month is giving students a rare opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and our individual cultures.
“These student groups have done a lot with cultural nights and dance nights, a lot of food, fun and festival, and we’re now going to try to dig a little deeper,” said Nguyen.