May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month. However, Sonoma State has a tradition of celebrating in April so that students, faculty, and staff can truly appreciate all that this month has to offer. SSU also recognizes the importance of providing a full month to recognize the Asian, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander communities we have on our campus.
According to the 2022 Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month homepage, SSU states that “we particularly want to begin this month by calling attention to and condemning the violence and hatred that has been directed against the Asian and Pacific Islander community”. The website goes on to say, “The 2022 AAPI Heritage Month Planning Committee will organize and co-sponsor events for SSU students, staff and faculty in solidarity against racism, coming together as a community and celebrating the wealth of the American Asia-Pacific. Island communities.
The AAPI community aims to provide a space for education and celebration for a marginalized community, while creating an opportunity for them to share their experiences and rich heritage.
Lauren Morimoto, Faculty Co-Chair of the Asian Pacific Islands American Faculty and Staff Association, said, “15 years ago, there wasn’t a lot of involvement when I came to Sonoma State. Unfortunately, diversity and inclusion work is on top of regular full-time work, so it was difficult to create a sustainable program. Morimoto went on to say, “Now there is an office, institutional support and we are able to partner with the community.”
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) of Sonoma County is an organization that partners with SSU to help organize campus events that take place during AAPI Month. This year, JACL held a live demonstration of mochi pounding which is a Japanese New Year tradition.
Other events that took place this month included the AAPI Heritage Month Opening Ceremony where Local Climate Justice and Water Advocate Sheridan Noelani Enomoto was the keynote speaker and “IN/VISIBLE : Asian American Feminism at SSU” where attendees had the opportunity to hear from several Asian American campus leaders who have made great contributions to classrooms, councils, and campus organization.
“I think the most important thing I learned [from this month] is that I am not alone. I had never really found a connection to my culture or heritage on campus until this month. Being able to meet and learn about all the positive and powerful Asian American staff and faculty on campus, as well as being able to host my own event was truly amazing,” said Sachiko Keller, fourth-year intern and HUB.
Keller hosted her own event on Tuesday called “Reconnecting with Your Heritage” where she hosted conversations about Japanese-American heritage. Keller also shared her family history and her experiences as a Japanese American.
When asked why she worked so hard to make this month special, Morimoto said, “A student came to see me today and told me that one of the events made him feel like a child. It’s a community and a sense of belonging.
Some upcoming events for AAPI Month include Sushi Making on May 10 from 4-6 p.m. and AAPI Spectator Response Training on May 12 from 12-1 p.m. To learn more about past events and the AAPI month, go to http://diversity.sonoma.edu