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Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month

Celebrate May as APIDA Heritage Month

Throughout the month of May, UMBC, Maryland and the Country celebrate the history, resilience, and cultures of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) communities worldwide as a part of APIDA Heritage Month. 

The Month of May carries significance as it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad completion on May 10, 1869 - honoring the majority Chinese Immigrants who laid the tracks. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter designated the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. However, it was not until 1990 that President George H. W. Bush sign a bill turning Asian-American Heritage Week into Asian-American Heritage Month. 1992 was the first year that May was officially celebrated as Asian-American Heritage Month. 

APIDA Heritage Month is a celebration of Asians, Southeast Asians, South Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the United States. APIDA encompasses people from all of the Asian continent, India, and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island). 

This month goes by many names and it is a great time to recognize the different acronyms and the communities within these groups: 

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM)

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM) 

Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AANHPIHM) 

Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month (APIDAHM)

Today, there are over 20 million Asian Americans that trace their roots to more than 20 countries, each with their own unique histories, cultures, languages, and norms. While this diverse group is often treated as a monolith, significant differences exist by income, education, religion, etc. 

Throughout U.S. history and over the past few years, we know our APIDA community has been impacted by Asian American hate crimes and anti-Asian sentiment. But even as we navigate these ongoing pains, we must also find/create and center spaces for joy, intentional rest, and shared community. Honoring APIDA Heritage Month is more than just recognizing the cultures and history of this vast diaspora, it's about amplifying lived experiences, uncovering challenging histories and recommitting to shared action and justice.

Join us on May 3rd, 2023 in 2B23 The Commons | The Mosaic: Center for Cultural Diversity from 3 - 4pm for our collaborative event with The Office of Health Promotion for our Community Conversations around the APIDA community, mental health, and cultural healing. 

Want to read about President Joe Biden's 2023 AANHPI Heritage Month Proclamation? Find it here

Follow us on Instagram @umbci3b to find more events and additional resources for APIDA Heritage Month. 

For more information on APIDA resources and other cultural diversity based resources, please email Angelina Jenkins, Assistant Director of The Mosaic, Center for Cultural Diversity at arjenkins@umbc.edu

Posted: May 1, 2023, 10:56 AM