It is impossible to flatten the experiences of communities that derive from a continent as vast and diverse as Asia into a single story, or even thousands of stories. The experiences that make up Asian American and Pacific Islander history in the United States are countless. Nevertheless, we at Newsela strive to continually expand the representation of AAPI perspectives and experiences in our content, to ensure that every student sees at least some part of their own story reflected in their instructional materials. Since the 1800s, diverse AAPI communities have flourished across the fifty states, becoming a core part of America’s history, economy, and population. For AAPI heritage month, we hope to showcase that diversity and celebrate all the ways in which AAPI communities have enriched American culture.
Each week this month, students will be able to delve into carefully curated text sets that explore different themes related to AAPI heritage. First, students will celebrate diversity and tradition, reading about Wakamiya Masako, an 82 year-old Japanese woman who created an app celebrating the Hinamatsuri festival, and the cultural and religious importance of the Sikh turban. Then, they’ll focus on remembering the histories that are essential to a complete understanding of the development of the United States, like the history of the farming community that developed as an immigrant haven in the midst of the California gold rush. In the third week of May, students will examine the perseverance of AAPI communities in the face of exclusion, adversity, and violence, deconstructing the model minority stereotype and reading a Pacific Islander student’s’ original poetry on the impact of climate change. Finally at the end of the month, students will have the opportunity to recognize achievements and contributions of standout AAPI leaders, such as Toni Breidinger, an Arab American NASCAR racer paving the way on the track.
We hope these stories, and the many others that make up our curations for AAPI heritage month, teach students about themselves and their peers. We hope that students find representation for topics they care about and are exposed to new perspectives or histories they may not have encountered before. Most of all, we hope to demonstrate the many ways that AAPI individuals and communities have shaped America, throughout history and today.