The Asian American/Pacific Islander Student Union, or AAPISU, at Ohio University hosted AAPI Week from April 16 to April 20 to celebrate and appreciate cultures and heritages.
Although Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is in May, the AAPISU hosted a week of events a few weeks before because OU’s finals week occurs during the first week of May.
The Federal Asian Pacific American Council, or FAPAC, decided the theme of AAPI Heritage Month as “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.” FAPAC was founded in 1985 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in order to represent Asian Pacific American employees working in Federal and District of Columbia governments.
According to FAPAC’s press release announcing the month’s theme, “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity,” is a continuation of a series created by the organization in 2021. The theme’s purpose is to recognize FAPAC’s achievements in “advancing leaders in the Federal and DC government.”
In 1978, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week was formed in Congress, according to the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month government website. In 1992, Congress passed a law expanding the week to a month.
Alexis Ky, a senior studying nursing and a general body member of AAPISU, said AAPI Week overlapped with another important day.
“It’s a nice time to get together and celebrate and appreciate more of the community that we have here,” Ky said. “This year, the AAPISU Week ended up falling around Cambodian New Year (and) Laos New Year, but I’m Cambodian and Chinese.”
AAPISU, Ky said, is an identity-based organization committed to recognizing the accomplishments and advancements made by people within the AAPI community and not only negative news.
“We strive to create a community who are underrepresented,” Ky said. “What we do is we try to highlight and shine light on achievements in the AAPI community that are overlooked, not just (negative) things you see on news outlets or any type of media. We also want to also showcase the good things and the great accomplishments that people in our community have done.”
Gabbie Buhay, a junior studying psychology and the director of programming at AAPISU, said the organization was founded in 2021 and this year was the second-ever AAPI Week at OU. The first AAPI Week event was scheduled to be a cherry blossom walk and picnic, but Buhay said the event was canceled due to rain. This was the second time the cherry blossom walk and picnic has been canceled in the past two years.
“I always like to think that even though it’s two years only in the making … (the) cherry blossom picnic or walk has always been cursed,” Buhay said. “Last year it rained a ton, this year it rained too so it kind of didn’t happen. We still had an OK time. We ended up going to Boyd, having some breakfast.”
As the director of programming, Buhay said she noticed people were more likely to come to events if there was food, especially free food, which is part of why the AAPISU collaborated with OU Culinary Services.
“We’re very grateful that (Jefferson Market) Kitchen was very gracious enough to collaborate with us,” said Buhay. “They wanted to showcase Asian cuisine more and more on campus.”
Tuesday, April 18, Gideon General – a well-known food content creator – came to OU to teach students how to cook beef and broccoli at Jefferson Market Kitchen. Buhay said the AAPISU found out General lived in Dayton and has Filipino heritage.
Amy Szmik, a senior studying journalism and general body member at AAPISU, said she attended a luau at the District on West Green on Wednesday, April 19. Szmik said there were smoothies and people discussing Pacific Islander cultures. Szmik plans to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month throughout the month of May and with her family at a festival in Cleveland.
AAPI Week showcased a variety of cultures and heritages from Asia and the Pacific Islands while bringing together people from those communities or people who wanted to learn and appreciate.
“It’s just great to have celebration of our culture and our heritage and everything,” Szmik said. “Even if our community isn’t super big here it’s just really nice to have people around you celebrating it too.”