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Celebrating AAPI

Amanda Xi '25

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, abbreviated as AAPI month, is celebrated every May in the United States to honor the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have immigrated to the country. AAPI includes a wide community, and at Mercersburg, many students identify themselves as such.

Asian communities immigrated to the United States as early as the Gold Rush of the 1840s; however, the nation did not recognize their contributions until 1979. AAPI month was originally a week, named Asian Pacific American Heritage Week, but in 1990, May was made the designated month of tribute. This choice was not random, May is an important month in Asian American history. It was when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the US and when Chinese workers finished building the first US transcontinental railroad. Today, AAPI month is an opportunity for communities of Asian descent to celebrate their accomplishments and be recognized by all Americans. 

The Asian Student Union at Mercersburg was founded one year ago to bring together Asian-identifying students from international and domestic backgrounds. So far, they have hosted SSC takeovers, bringing culture to the community through H-Mart snacks and movie nights. Jordan Yuan, ‘24, one of the founders of ASU, says, “We just want to have fun and get together having a good time.” 

For AAPI month, ASU is planning something bigger for the entire school. At Friday’s school meeting, ASU is bringing Jillian Tamaki, a Japanese-Canadian illustrator, to speak about her art and representation of self. Leaders of ASU have been planning this event since early this year. Yuan says, “I read a book by Tamaki over the summer, and I thought it would be great to bring her over to talk. AAPI month is the perfect chance to introduce more works from the AAPI community.” 

Students have also expressed excitement about joining the AAPI celebrations around campus. Since ASU is a new student union, this is the first year they have hosted the school-wide celebration of AAPI month. Students widely approve of this plan. Yiting Sun ‘25 says, “I’m glad we are starting to show more appreciation for other cultures, especially as an Asian American right now.”

Celebrating AAPI is exciting for Asian-identifying students but for the greater Mercersburg community, it can be equally rewarding. Germany Johnson, ‘25, a third-year Chinese language student, says, “I am excited about the talk on Friday. I think it’s good to learn about new cultures, especially because we are such a diverse community.”

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