Millersville University recognizes May as Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, a celebration of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States and all their contributions and achievements. With the spring semester ending in early May, the University’s Intercultural Center for Student Engagement planned several events in April so students could take advantage of them.
APIDA began as a week-long celebration during the month of May, as it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese to America on May 7, 1843. APIDA week was expanded to the whole month in 1990.
“This month is incredibly important because it allows Asians and Pacific Islanders to share our culture and heritage with everyone as well as celebrate our differences,” explains Lia Toigo, representative for the Asian Student Inclusivity Association. “This month is an opportunity to make connections, educate on the culture, and appreciate our history as Asian Americans.”
During April, the ICSE hosted a movie night each week featuring films with prominent Asian representation, including “Parasite” and “Shang-Chi.” The ICSE also hosted masterclasses regarding information about APIDA month, such as “Understanding Diversity within AAPI” and “The Impact of Microaggressions. And there were several game nights along with information sessions, including Jeopardy and bingo on Friday nights.
In addition to the Intercultural Center events, the Asian Student Inclusivity Association hosted several events to celebrate the month. ASIA is an organization on campus that welcomes Asians, Pacific Islanders and allies who are interested in learning about Asian culture.
During the week of April 11, the organization hosted ASIA week, themed around the animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Events included a panel discussion about the Asian American experience, a Theravada New Year celebration and more.
ASIA has planned several events on campus outside of APIDA month as well. The organization hosts boba tea fundraisers, Vietnamese spring roll nights, and general meetings focused on Asian culture and heritage.
“ASIA has been around since 2019, and to see how much we have grown on campus and to finally celebrate APIDA month in person with everyone on campus is refreshing and exciting for us!” says Toigo. “Our organization strives to bring events and meetings to campus that aren’t normally around, and it’s always exciting to see people engage with us.”