'Together We Rise' is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month theme

Ocean wave and sky

An awards banquet honoring the Asian, Desi and Pacific Island communities will kick off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a four-week celebration based on the theme “Together We Rise.”

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is the official federal name for the month’s celebration. At the UO, however, it is often referred to as Asian Desi Pacific Island American Heritage Month to more accurately reflect the community’s diversity. “Desi" refers to the people and culture of the Indian subcontinent and South Asia, including Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

“Together We Rise” highlights unity among diverse and distinct cultures, heritages and histories. The awards banquet includes a dinner, dance, music performances and awards for students, faculty members, staff and community members. The event will take place May 6, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Giustina Ballroom in the Ford Alumni Center. An RSVP is encouraged.

Gordon Hall, a professor of psychology and member of the Asian, Desi, & Pacific Islander Strategies Interest Group, stressed the importance of this year’s theme.

“Although Asian Pacific Americans are the fastest-growing group in the country and include more than 30 cultures, they are invisible in societal priorities,” he said. “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month gives them visibility and a voice.”

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month originated in 1978 with a congressional bill to proclaim Asian and Pacific American Week in May; in 1990, Congress expanded it to be the entire month of May. They selected May to honor the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States in 1843 and commemorate the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May 1869. The majority of workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Celebratory and educational events will be held throughout the month.

The Taiwanese Student Association and Kultura Pilipinas, the Filipino student organization, will celebrate with culture nights. Taiwan Night is May 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Erb Memorial Union ballroom. Filipino Culture Night takes place May 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Global Scholars Hall Great Room. The Chinese Flagship students’ annual colloquium will be held May 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Global Scholars Hall Great Room

The 44th annual Lū'au will be presented by the Hui 'O Hawai'i student club May 25 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. in MacArthur Court; doors open at 5 p.m. This year’s theme is “ʻO Nā Hoku Nō Kiu O Ka Lani,” meaning "The Stars Are the Spies of Heaven." Food, raffles and performances will be offered by Hui ʻO Hawaiʻi and Pacific Islander Club members. Tickets can be purchased at the UO Ticket Office or online.The BEseries and the Center for Multicultural and Academic Excellence will host BE Voice —William Nu'utupu Giles on May 14 from 5:30 to 8 p.m in the EMU ballroom. Giles is a fa'fafine, a person who is third-gender or non-binary, and second generation Samoan immigrant, poet and arts educator born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the first Pacific Islander to win the National Underground Poetry Individual Competition and was part of the Hawaiian team that won the International Poetry Slam Championship.

Student organizations representing various Asian, Desi and Pacific Islander cultures will collaborate to present Asian Desi Pacific Island Night Market, which will include cultural performances, food and interactive activities and games. The night market is May 20 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the EMU ballroom.

Lectures and presentations will be offered throughout the month and will focus on various cultures, disciplines and issues.

The Oregon Humanities Center will offer two lectures. “Unfinished Translation: Writing Modernism Before the Pacific Century” with Tze-Yin Teo, an assistant professor of comparative literature and 2018-19 Oregon Humanities Center faculty research fellow. The lecture, featuring issues relating to translation between English and Chinese, is May 3 at noon in Room 159, Prince Lucien Campbell Hall.

Sharon Luk, an assistant professor of ethnic studies, will present “The Life of Paper: Letters and Poetics of Living Beyond Captivity” on May 10 at noon, also in Room 159, Prince Lucien Campbell Hall. Luk’s talk explores the “evolution of racism and confinement in California history,” including the early detention of Chinese migrants, the internment of Japanese Americans and the mass incarceration of African Americans.

Freedom of Speech and the Press in Asia: Human Rights Balanced with Cultural Values?” will take place May 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the Jaqua Center auditorium. Kyo Ho Youm, a professor and the Jonathan Marshall First Amendment Chair in the School of Journalism and Communication, will present the lecture as part of the "Rethinking Free Speech in East Asia" lecture series offered by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature.

The College of Design will offer “Asian-Greek Identity on the Telephos Frieze from the Great Altar at Pergamon” with history of art and architecture professor Kristen Seaman on May 9 from 11 a.m. to noon in Room 241,  Lawrence Hall. The lecture will explore the complex Asian-Greek cultural identity in the Telephros frieze.

Whether a cultural night, poetry, food, dance, music or lecture, the diversity and community connections that make up the UO Asian, Desi and Pacific Islander communities will be evident all month. Molly Schuster, an ethnic studies major and member of the Asian, Desi, & Pacific Islander Strategies Interest Group, offered a Samoan proverb to express her feeling about this year’s theme and the importance of diverse communities working together: “O le tele o sulu e maua ai figota, e mama se avega pe a ta amo fa’atasi,” which meansUnity is strength. My strength does not come from me alone but from many.”

For further information, check the Division of Equity and Inclusion website.

By tova stabin, University Communications