Harvard will celebrate its Asian and Asian American communities this week during the second annual “Asian American and Pacific Islander Awareness Week,” a series of events hosted by the College’s different Asian American groups on campus that will express the cultural diversity on campus.
While the Asian American Brotherhood is coordinating the celebration every major student group dealing with Asian or Asian-American life is involved. For example, the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association is organizing a panel discussion on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in modern politics.
“This event highlights different facets of our community,” says Athena L. M. Lao ’12, the co-president of Harvard’s Asian American Association.
Cultural events—on everything from tradtional Asian cuisine to modern immigrant life—are a major part of the week’s festivities.
“We are looking to bring our culture to other students on campus,” said Lisa M. Yu, ‘11 one of the co-presidents of the Chinese Students Association. “We are doing an event on the path of Chinese food to America, and how it’s actually more American than Chinese.”
Yu said events such as this highlight the dynamic connection between Asian communities in America and those on the Asian continent.
Last night, the Harvard Vietnamese Association hosted “A Lens on Vietnam,” a screening of four short Vietnamese documentaries exploring topics ranging from traditional art in the village of Sinh to juvenile delinquency and the Vientamese criminal justice system. Two of the directors whose films were being showcased were in attendance, and one who could not attend the event answered questions from the audience via Skype.
Amy N. Vo ‘12, co-president of the Harvard Vietnamese Association, said that events like last night’s screening highlight the great diversity of Asian cultures that are lumped under the general term “Asian American.”
“When you think of Asian American, you tend to think of East Asians as opposed to Southeast Asians” Vo said.
The week also helps to raise awareness of some problems that members of Asian communities on campus face.
“This week is very important to celebrate because I don’t think we have much of an opportunity to challenge stereotypes” says Lao.
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