Last year, I posted my thoughts about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2011, along with some links for teachers who want to teach about it. I want to do the same throughout this month. I’ve pasted below an excerpt of what I wrote last year about APAHM because I still stand by what I wrote. I’ve also added a bit more since thinking about APAHM a year ago. You can also just scroll to the bottom for links to teacher resources.
Someone always seems to have a problem with holidays commemorating or bringing awareness to a certain issue. I’m sure you’ve heard people say:
Earth Day? Shouldn’t every day be ‘Earth Day’?
AIDS Awareness Week? Shouldn’t we be aware of AIDS all the time?
And such rhetoric can be heard with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). Why only a month? How can we confine ethnic identity and pride within only thirty days? Well, you can’t. And you shouldn’t. But that’s not how I see APAHM.
I feel like the importance of APAHM spans beyond the individual, though it definitely starts with it. It’s about the community and how it’s grown from the contributions and efforts of individuals trying to make a difference. In having a month dedicated to Asian Pacific American Heritage, we can look back at the past year and see how our accomplishments as a community have moved us forward. Similarly, we can look years and decades back and see how the accomplishments of our predecessors have gotten us where we are now. It’s a tradition of recognizing the past, living in the present, and looking forward to the future. Like all things, we never appreciate them if they are ever-present. At least once a year during the month of May, we can reflect and of course celebrate the part of all of us that is both diverse and unifying, that defines but also challenges our identities and what they stand for.
I picture Culture as the shadow of Language, not because Culture is somehow inferior or less substantial than Language, but because its lines are blurred and so much harder to grasp. There are no clear cut ways to define Culture, it’s boundaries constantly in flux. Yet, it follows us everywhere, and as language teachers, it follows the language we learn, whether we decide to consciously teach it or not.
That is not to say though that as a teacher I would never teach about Asian Americans outside of APAHM. Since last year, I’ve started student teaching an ESL class for students preparing to enroll in an American university. We have a unit on California History and the readings included in their course reader focus on the Native Americans, the Spanish, and the California Mission. My awesome mentor teacher felt that the curriculum was not giving the international students a complete picture of California History so she included a powerpoint presentation featuring other parts of California history, such as the Chinese Americans working on the railroad, the Japanese Americans and the internment camps, etc. And now that I’m looking at these links, I actually wish I had these as resources. I’ll be teaching the same curriculum again this summer so I can’t wait to use it!
Here are some APAHM resources for teachers who want to teach Asian Pacific American history:
Other links about APAHM: