By Alyssa Pittari
During the week of April 12, High Point University celebrated Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
The campus shined a spotlight on the culture by holding multiple events with the help of many campus organizations.
Before the start of HPU’s celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage, there was an Anti-Racism Workshop that took place both virtually and in person on April 6. It was hosted by the Department of Multicultural Affairs. The workshop helped to educate students on the shift from non-racism to anti-racism. It helped students learn about the levels of racism and oppression and how they influence societal norms.
Students heard about how they can be advocates of change for dismantling structural and cultural racism and oppression. Events like these help students gain information about different cultures and learn how they can help enact change in society. While this event focused on Asian and Pacific Islander heritage, the workshop educated students on how to respect people of all cultures.
Multiple events were held on April 13. One of these was a Cross-Cultural Communication Workshop, which allowed students to participate in a discussion on culture and the danger of a “single story.” It is important to learn about cultures authentically, instead of only knowing a “single story,” such as a stereotype, about a certain heritage.
On April 13, the Café in Slane Student Center hosted a cultural takeover by serving Japanese cuisine. During the lunch hours, there was a variety of Japanese food, including chicken katsu, tofu teriyaki yakitori and togarashi grilled carrots.
Freshman Lily Nelson dined at the Café during the cultural takeover, and she appreciated how HPU provided international cuisine options.
“I was so excited to try multiple Japanese dishes, such as the tofu teriyaki skewers and the vegetable lo mien,” Nelson said. “I love that HPU gave students the chance to try some cultural food that I probably never would have tried on my own.”
That night, the Diversity Enrichment Track hosted a movie night with a showing of the 2016 movie “Moana,” in the Qubein School of Communication and streaming on HPU Connect. “Moana” was the first Pacific Islander Disney princess. The film follows the adventurous Polynesian princess on an action-packed voyage as she develops a deep connection to the ocean. The movie features several Asian and Pacific Islander cast members, such as Auli’i Cravalho, who voices the titular character.
The Department of Multicultural Affairs hosted another event on the night of April 15. The (Un)Common Grounds Conversation focused on the cultural navigation of the Asian and Pacific Islander community in the U.S. and the current climate of the Asian-American community. The event took the form of a casual dialogue that invited students and panel members to share their unique perspectives and discuss challenging and transformative topics.
The panelists included HPU student Amirah Darnaby and her mother, Allison Wise, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the U.S Office of Personnel Management. Both are of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. During the event, participants were encouraged to explore their own cultural identity, understand the experiences of other students and critically examine society’s social systems.
During the event, Darnaby discussed how others can be allies to the Asian and Pacific Islander community.
“Allyship is the vehicle that can propel us forward,” Darnaby said. “Through collective action, we can amplify the voices of others and challenge the biases that keep us from experiencing the beauty of diversity.”
Talking openly about these issues encourages others to actively work towards a society that respects and appreciates people of all backgrounds. Darnaby said that one method of spreading the word is through social media. Posting information about these issues can show others how they can make a difference.
The week ended with an International Festival on April 16, located on the John and Martha Slane Student Center basketball court. This event was cosponsored by the Global Student Association and Student Government Association. This was a celebration of the various international cultures that are represented on campus. The event featured culturally diverse food and music, and there were trivia games to educate students about different lifestyles from around the world.
The events throughout the week allowed HPU students to have fun celebrating the Asian and Pacific Islander heritage and learn more about the culture.