Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

CVESD Honors Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Posted on 05/03/2021
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Throughout May, a multimedia campaign will give voice to various segments of our learning community about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. With the recent rise in Anti-Asian rhetoric and hate crimes in our country, we want to share insight and stories from and about Asian Americans in an educational way.

First, a little history. In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869. In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration that is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

We are asking participants in our awareness campaign to share their reflections on one of the following question prompts: What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to me? What lessons can we share through Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

photo of familyRochelle Carroll, director of Instructional Services, appreciates what this month represents in light of her family’s history. She shared about her family’s relocation to an internment camp following the outbreak of World War II.

“In 1942, my Japanese American family was relocated in the middle of the night from their long-time homes in San Diego, with only what they could carry in two suitcases, to the middle of the desert in Poston, Arizona,” Carroll said. “This picture [insert right] represents the irony of the times. My family is standing in front of the barbed wire fence of their internment camp with my uncle, serving in the United States military.”

The photo of the Fukamizu and Torio families includes her great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, and great uncle. Her mother was born while the family was in the internment camp. Her family returned to Chula Vista after the war.

“Even though their property, most of their belongings, and their dignity were taken from them, my family told me they had to do what was best for our country to feel safe, and as good citizens of the United States, they did what they needed to do,” Carroll recalled. “They never spoke ill of the decisions that had to be made, rather about all that they learned from the experience. I am proud of my Japanese heritage, and of the honor and patriotism my family has taught me over the years. I am as proud to be Japanese as I am to be American.”

For Lalaine Perez, executive director of Language Development and Instruction Services and Support, this month provides an opportunity to increase understanding of the contributions of Asian Americans—and the diversity within AAPI ethnicities.

family photo“What does Asian American Heritage Month mean to me? It means honoring my grandparents and parents for leaving their legacy of hard work, hospitality, service to others and love of family and God,” Perez said. “They came to this country from the Philippines and fulfilled their hopes and dreams for a better life for their families, and I am grateful to them for paving the way. Today, I strive to be a role model for our Asian American students as they grow to find their purpose and voice in this world.”

Perez added that she would like others to not only learn about the rich cultures that Asian Americans represent, but also recognize the amazing contributions of Asian Americans to our country.

“I hope others understand that there is not just one Asian American story, there are many, and each one is worthy of acknowledgement because those stories make us each who we uniquely are today,” Perez said.

Chula Vista Elementary School District honors the stories from all members of our community and looks forward to sharing more of them with you in the days and weeks ahead as we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

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