In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, councils are celebrating generational contributions and cultural histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through their programming. On the West Coast, attendees at Humanities Washington’s “Hidden Histories: The South Vietnamese Side of the Vietnam War” heard from Historian Julie Pham about how Vietnamese soldiers and refugees experienced the war. During her presentation, Pham “drew from interviews she conducted with 40 South Vietnamese military veterans in the United States, and illuminated how people can remember historical events differently.”

On May 28, North Carolina Humanities will host “StrongHER TogetHER” where actor and musician MK Alova will share stories of “NC Asian American Culture, Acceptance and Celebration.” In Minneapolis, the Minnesota Humanities Center is collaborating with The SEAD Project (Southeast Asian Diaspora) to host a four week interactive learning series: “The Art of Healing and Resilience Through Permaculture.” Throughout the series, participants will learn about “permaculture philosophy and Southeast Asian practices; cross cultural shared knowledge on sustainable community building and living (individually and collectively); healing and connection through planting, storytelling, group reflection, and community meal sharing; agricultural ecosystems; and gardening and nature tending skills.”

Beyond the month of May, councils celebrate the diversities, lived experiences, and cultural heritages of Asian and Pacific Islanders—paying tribute to the contributions of those who have and will continue to shape American life and history for generations to come.

Humanities Guåhan recently announced the return of its locally- and nationally-recognized outdoor youth initiative, Taking Root: Growing Youth Empowerment for Island Sustainability. This rigorous four-month program is designed for at-risk public middle school students who trace their heritage to Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. First initiated in 2018, the Taking Root program will “connect a cohort of 30 CHamoru and Micronesian youth from underserved communities in Guam with scientists, environmentalists, humanists, and traditional experts.” In 2019, Humanities Guåhan was awarded a Schwartz Prize for outstanding public humanities programming through their Taking Root initiative. Over the summer of 2022, this program will encourage “physical activity, civic engagement, and cultural and ecological awareness while encouraging diverse islander youth to share their knowledge and to work collaboratively and creatively to identify challenges.” 

This year, the Maine Humanities Council is featuring a statewide reading and discussion series with Phuc Tran, author of the “darkly funny and ultimately transcendent coming-of-age story,” Sigh, Gone. In his memoir, Tran “examines the pain of assimilation, the corrosive effects of shame, the legacy of violence, and the power of art to transcend, critique, illuminate, and inspire.” 

Written by Jazzy DiMeglio