For the Asian American Pacific Islander Month calendar of events, click here.
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Throughout May, people across the United States celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in honor of the impact Asian cultures have on society.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga celebrates AAPI month in April while school is still in session.
Christopher Stokes, UTC assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, explained the sense of belonging people can find when introduced to others from similar backgrounds.
“It’s important for someone to see themselves and their cultural heritage advocated for in the spaces that they spend the most time,” Stokes said.
“I think it’s amazing to kind of confirm who you are, see your cultural identity and allow others to celebrate it with you.”
This year’s theme for AAPI month is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.” Throughout the month, several offices and organizations have worked together to host and plan events.
The Offices of Multicultural Affairs and Student and Family Engagement kicked off UTC’s AAPI month on April 3. Booths were set up around the first floor of Lupton Hall to allow students from organizations such as Delta Phi Lambda sorority and Asian Student Association to discuss heritage and the importance of recognizing Asian cultures with students and faculty.
“We have a growing Asian American population of students and they have so many things that they’re doing to make sure that we’re celebrating the culture with them,” Stokes said.
UTC freshman and environmental policy and planning major Emma Trubey is ASA’s social media and public relations manager. Adopted from China as a baby, Trubey grew up encouraged by her adoptive parents to learn more about her origins.
“It’s nice to know that there is a very large spectrum of characters and stories behind the Asian American experience,” Trubey said. “It’s so broad and it’s also a spectrum, so coming to a university and meeting more Asian people has been really good just to see what their lives are like.”
According to Trubey, learning about other cultures expands one’s viewpoint on the world—an important part of strengthening relationships with others and establishing a greater sense of self.
Kai Nafrada, a UTC freshman and environmental policy and planning major, grew up in San Diego. From a family half Asian American and half Pacific Islander, Nafrada said AAPI month is “a whole month of recognizing that people like me exist.”
Learning about his cultural heritage primarily through the internet, Nafrada joined ASA and was happy to meet others with similar backgrounds.
“It’s really nice to know that there are so many people like me just in America that there’s enough for a month to recognize us,” Nafrada said. “There is so much culture to learn about.
“There are such different things, but there’s also such shared common things around us.”
As UTC celebrates the heritage of other cultures, Stokes said the campus recognizes the hardworking impact Asian Americans have on America.
“So many of the things that we’ve been able to celebrate and enjoy in our country are based off of some of the innovative ideas and thoughts of leaders we’ve had in the Asian community,” Stokes said. “The more we learn about other cultures, the more we get to reflect on our own. We get the chance to learn more about who we are and our global connection with everyone.”
An upcoming highlight takes place on April 22 when UTC’s K-Pop Culture Club will host a dance night with various K-Pop performers. UTC’s AAPI events continue through April 28, just in time for final exams and the start of nationwide AAPI month festivities.