Festival from AAPI council rings in AAPI Heritage Month

Trinity’s AAPI council plans several events in the weeks leading up to AAPI Heritage Month


Photo Courtesy of Trinity AAPI Council

Dr. Melody Li performs at the AAPI festival.

Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month begins May 1. To celebrate, the AAPI council and Trinity’s East Asian studies department (EAST) collaborated on the AAPI Heritage Month Festival, held on April 13, and a number of other events. The AAPI council will showcase an art exhibition with a reception on May 1, and the first AAPI Graduation Ceremony will take place during this year’s graduation season.

The AAPI council, made up of students from the Chinese Language and Culture Association, the South Asian Student Association, the Japanese Culture Club, the Vietnamese Student Association, the Filipino Student Association and EAST, has worked all year on events like the Lunar New Year Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Unlike those annual festivals, the AAPI Heritage Month Festival was the first of its kind at Trinity. Julie Bondy, senior biology and industrial design double-major and member of the AAPI council, elaborated on the inspiration behind putting on the Heritage Month Festival.

“We were inspired by events that TULA [Trinity University Latin Association] and MAS [Mexico, the Americas and Spain] put on (like Primavera [Fest]) and thought it would be meaningful to do something for AAPI … to celebrate and bring awareness to the different aspects of Asian culture,” Bondy wrote in an email.

Past years have not seen much attention brought to AAPI clubs, and the council was trying to foster momentum for AAPI awareness with the festival. Grace Khan, senior biology major and member of the AAPI council, discussed part of the issue behind recent years’ lack of celebrations.

“It’s really hard because AAPI Heritage Month is actually May, not April, but because of our finals and everyone gets so busy, we’ve started a little earlier. … That’s also contributed to making it hard to have anything for AAPI Heritage Month in the past,” Khan said. “Last year there were a couple smaller events related to AAPI Heritage Month, but overall, at least during my time at Trinity, there hasn’t been much, so we’re really trying to increase the scale of our celebrations and share just kind of the very diverse cultures from each club.”

For the festival itself, AAPI hosted various activities, including booths for each of the clubs, demonstrations by visiting guest speaker Melody Li and various art exhibits. Bondy described the basic outline of affairs at the festival.

“Organizations also are hosting activities such as fan painting, calligraphy, couplet making, Chaat, kendama and tinikling challenge. We are also collaborating with TDC [Trinity Diversity Connection] who is giving out boba and Asian-themed giveaways. We are also collaborating with EAST who brought in Dr. Melody Li and her mother who did some Chinese dance demonstrations and Taichi,” Bondy wrote.

In addition to the booths and demonstrations set up at the festival, the AAPI council displayed artwork that will later be showcased at the exhibit in the library. Bondy detailed the art and other visual pieces that were showcased.

“We wanted to make sure there was some aspect of advocacy, so we also have an AAPI history timeline that highlights AAPI history that is not as known and projects by Emma Parent*, … who is a student researcher with EAST,” Bondy wrote.

All aspects of the festival worked to celebrate and spread Asian cultures. Khan even recounted how the historical timeline for the art exhibit, created by Khan, Bondy and Jade Bondy, enlightened the team to lesser-known events and added to their purpose.

“Even Julie, Jade and I, when we were trying to create [the timeline], were like, ‘We don’t really know any AAPI history. We don’t know any of these events really,’” Khan said. “So we want to have an opportunity for people to share that and for people within the Trinity community to learn more about AAPI culture and history.”

Celebration and education were the goals of the festival and the AAPI council’s other upcoming events. Jie Zhang, associate professor of Chinese and co-director of EAST, expressed the purposes of the AAPI council’s events.

“One is cultural experience — to share the passion and also the pride in AAPI heritage through sharing food … music, dances, and so these are part of the cultural package, but there’s also another component. The civil engagement package … is trying to educate people about the invisibilized AAPI history in America … and showcase some of our students’ work in related classes,” Zhang said.

Ultimately, the festival and its subsequent events celebrate AAPI heritage and foster the sense of community for AAPI students at Trinity. Victoria Ni, sophomore accounting major and member of the AAPI council, emphasized the importance of these events, especially at Trinity.

“Not only will [the festival] nurture the knowledge and awareness of AAPI culture and history for those who attend, but this event also provides AAPI students the space to celebrate their individual cultures,” Ni said. “I enjoy the sense of belonging AAPI brings. Coming from a very diverse area, I definitely think Trinity can benefit from an environment that’s more welcoming where students can learn more about different cultures.”

*Emma Parent is an arts and entertainment reporter for the Trinitonian.