May is Asian American and Asian Pacific Islanders Heritage (AANHPI) Month, which is an annual celebration that recognizes the historical and cultural contributions made by people of Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander ancestry who trace their origins and identities to the countries, states, or jurisdictions and/or the diasporic communities of the following geographic regions: Central Asia: Afghani, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgians, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Mongolian, Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek. East Asia: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Okinawan, Taiwanese, Tibetan. Hawai’i and Pacific Islands: Carolinian, Chamorro, Chuukese, Fijian, Guamanian, Hawaiian, Kosraean, Marshallese, Native Hawaiian, Niuean, Palauan, Papua New Guinean, Pohnpeian, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tongan, Yapese. Southeast Asia: Bruneian, Burmese, Cambodian, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Laotian, Malaysian, Mien, Singaporean, Timorese, Thai, Vietnamese. South Asia: Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Indian, Maldivians, Nepali, Pakistani, Sri Lankan. West Asia is typically referred to as the Middle East. Geographically, it includes the countries of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
As of the 2020 U.S. Census, there were about 20.6 million people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the United States, making up about 7 percent of the total U.S. population.
It took over ten years, but in 1992 President George H. W. Bush signed into law the national observance of AANHPI. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese people to the U.S. in May 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May 1869, which was built predominantly by Chinese laborers.
Asians first migrated to what is now known as North America over 15,000 years ago through a land bridge between Asia and North America, yet there is a strong history of stereotyping AAPI people as “foreigners.”
The U.S. has greatly benefited and has been shaped by the contributions of immigrants. Nancy Foner, Distinguished Professor, Sociology and International Migration Studies at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center explores the many ways immigration has redefined modern America in her new book, One Quarter of the Nation. According to Foner, “An astonishing number of immigrants and their children—nearly eighty-six million people—now live in the United States. Together, they have transformed the American experience in profound and far-reaching ways that go to the heart of the country’s identity and institutions.”
This month, Falmouth Academy Students for Social Justice will explore and celebrate the local AANHPI community through a collaborative project focusing on local small businesses. They have put together an interactive map of regional restaurants and businesses
, that they will add to throughout the month. “We would love for everyone to take inspiration from the map, visit the locations, and take photos to post on social media tagging @falmouth_academy,” said Robby Lender ’25.
Additionally, the students will create a display in the main stairwell at school to share information with the school community. “We plan to spotlight some of the lesser known places so we may learn about their [AAPI] culture including music, movies, language, food, and art,” explained Karly Shifrin ’25 at All-School Meeting.
As Dr. Foner notes, “Immigration has touched virtually every facet of American culture, from the music we dance to and the food we eat to the films we watch and books we read.”.
For more information, check out the national website of events