ASA hosts events to celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month

This year, the Asian Students Association (ASA) is celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) differently by extending its program from a week to a month. The theme behind the various activities, discussions, and performances is “Behind These Faces.” It is an “effort to promote greater awareness and appreciation of the incredible diversity of identities that exist among those who affiliate [with] or have a connection with the umbrella term, ‘Asian,” said ASA executive board member Felix Liang ’16 in an email correspondence.

“Through many of the events [that ASA has] been holding this month, we [are] hoping to generate increased dialogue regarding what being ‘Asian’ means for those who either self-identify as such, who are often forgotten or left out of the discussion, or who feel they don’t fit but are automatically grouped into the label,” Liang added.

Because there is so much variety within people who identify as Asian, APAHM aims to inform people about each different Asian identity and to celebrate all of the distinct characteristics of each one. “What [ASA is] trying to emphasize with this theme is that Asian American identity is often homogenized. When many people think of Asia, they think of China or Japan. They think of the Great Wall or miso soup. But Asia is so much more eclectic than what many assume; people, food, climate, language­—there’s so much variation within Asia and Asian American identity,” ASA Head of Publicity/Public Relations Sonita Hav ’17 said in an email correspondence.

Hav also discussed her personal connection to this month’s theme: “For me, I find that my Cambodian culture is rarely acknowledged, probably because there’s such a small population of Cambodians in the U.S. compared to other Asian identities, so I love that this theme strives to shine a light on that.”

The month kicked off with a faculty-student discussion in the Pugh Center on April 6th. “Conversations with faculty are always exceedingly progressive and it’s amazing to hear their input,” Hav said. On April 16, there was a tour through the Colby Museum of Art that was aimed at celebrating Asian American artists at Colby. The artists, whose works are currently on display, express distinctive views about their respective heritages through art and encouraged discussion about the dynamics of Asian American identity. Following that, on Friday April 17th, there was a performance by The Genki Spark Taiko Project in Lorimer Chapel. ASA has also been screening the new comedy series, Fresh Off the Boat, which focuses on the lives of Asian immigrants in America, in the Pugh Center.

This is the first year that ASA has organized an event focused on individual students’ narratives. Inspired by the success of SGA’s Storytime, the narratives will feature students that will share their personal experiences with their Asian identity. “For me, hearing a fellow peer speak and tell a personal story takes on a different, more relatable and more impactful light. Our club was drawn to the possibilities that a Narratives event offers, from giving a voice to those who want to share but might otherwise not have the chance to, to even sparking new bonds or closer relationships,” Liang said.

“Perhaps the main goal of the Narratives is to foster greater understanding between and among those whom the term “Asian” has had some significance in their lives and those who simply want to learn about this issue. At the very least, this event is a chance for self-reflection, with the hope that it will educate, inspire, and lead to a greater willingness on campus to bring up what is a very relevant but sometimes overlooked issue that has a profound effect on many of our peers on a daily basis,” Liang added. There is still time to sign up and share your own narrative. For more information, contact Liang at fliang@colby.edu.

Below are the events that are going on for the remainder of the month:

Saturday, April 25th

Festival: Holi

Dana Lawn

2:00-4:00p.m.

Monday, April 27th

Speaker: Helen Zia

Ostrove Auditorium

8:00-9:00p.m.

Thursday, April 30th

Narratives: Behind These Faces

Mary Low Coffeehouse

7:30-8:30p.m.

Every Thursday until April 30th

Screenings: Fresh Off the Boat

Pugh Center

11:30-1:00p.m.

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