Student organizations to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month

Coalitions and clubs will host virtual events and discussions to celebrate throughout April

After ASU's decision to go completely online last spring, many events had to either be canceled or held virtually, including the annual celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in April.

This year, the Asian/Asian Pacific American Student Coalition is gearing up to launch its annual events for AAPIHM in April for the first time since the pandemic started in a completely virtual setting.

Maria Manaog, president of AAPASC and a junior majoring in graphic information technology, said the coalition has many events planned over the course of the next month: student panels, a virtual culture show and more.

On April 2, student AAPI clubs across Arizona will be hosting the month's first virtual statewide social event, where students can interact and get to know one another, Manaog said.

Manaog said the virtual panels will have a variety of speakers who will cover a range of topics, in particular the recent increase in violence toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Over the past year, anti-Asian violence has increased throughout the U.S., most recently resulting in the deaths of six Asian women working in spas across Atlanta who were killed by a gunman last Tuesday.

READ MORE: Students, faculty advocate for awareness of anti-Asian racism

AAPASC released a statement on March 18 urging ASU President Michael Crow to publicly condemn the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes and violence and show solidarity.

On March 19, Crow released a statement expressing solidarity with ASU's AAPI community.

"These behaviors and the dialogue of intolerance that contribute to them are unacceptable at every level and in every way," Crow said in his statement. "At ASU we confront these inappropriate and racist views each time we encounter them and will certainly continue to do so."

On April 9, a student panel will be held featuring students from ASU, UA and NAU to highlight the rise in violence against the community, Manaog said.

"That's going to be a big event because we're hoping to get five panelists, which would be a mix of representatives from all three schools," she said. On April 14, the coalition and ASU faculty will be hosting "COVID-19 and Anti-Asian racism on University campuses."

AAPASC's member organizations also have their own plans for AAPIHM.

Summer Tran, president of the Vietnamese Student Association and a senior majoring in criminology and criminal justice, said the club is preparing for its VSA Gala, titled "Phoenix by Night: Blossoming in the Desert," to be held entirely online on April 16.

Tran said the inspiration behind hosting the gala online was from seeing other Vietnamese Student Associations across the country plan their events.

"We're pretty involved with other VSAs in the southwest, and there are other VSAs who are doing their galas or culture shows online," Tran said. "So we've been going to a lot of their shows just to see how they formatted it and everything."

Tran said their upcoming gala will have pre-recorded and live performances and service auctions, including masters of ceremonies and cultural skits.

Tran said admission to VSA's virtual gala will be free, and the organization will be raising money for VSAs across North America through raffles, auctions and donations.

The Philippine American Student Association is set to host its annual Sino Tayo event online this year on April 10, with its main theme being astrology. 

Nicole Campos, president of PASA and a junior majoring in medical microbiology, said hosting Sino Tayo at a limited capacity in person was not a feasible option for the club.

"In the past, this event has been in person, and there's been typically like 300 people in attendance," Campos said. "But now that we're a year into this (pandemic), we're very accustomed to having an online setting. We still want to maintain this culture-sharing platform for not just our members but for people across Arizona who want to share in the culture and everything."

Campos said the Sino Tayo is still going to remain a performance-based event as it has been in the past.

"What we have planned is a whole lineup of performances from not just our own dance teams but also any general members or local talents from across Arizona who want to perform," Campos said.

Donita Chang, vice president of PASA, a sophomore studying theatre and a member of Delta Chi Lambda, ASU's first Asian-interest sorority, said the sorority will be hosting its annual fashion show virtually this year via its Instagram on April 8.

"Literally anybody at ASU can fill out this short questionnaire, send in a picture of themselves in their traditional outfits, and then they'll be featured on our story," Chang said. "It's a very simple, quick highlight thing for our Asian community to showcase their culture."

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