Rollins Celebrates Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

April 26, 2024

By Jessica Firpi ’11

Chinese dragon dance on campus
Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins honors the lives and invaluable contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through a diverse range of engagement and education.

Since 1992, the month of May has been designated as Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, honoring the generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have been instrumental in the story of America. But the effort to officially recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions to the United States began in the late 1970s, spanning over a decade to make it a permanent month-long celebration.

President Jimmy Carter originally signed a law on October 5, 1978, designating the first 10 days of May Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. It wasn’t until 1992 that President George H.W. Bush signed into law the month of May as Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. May was selected as the celebration month to commemorate when the first Japanese people immigrated to the U.S. in 1843.

At Rollins, we’re observing AAPI Heritage Month and this year’s “Advancing Leaders Through Innovation” theme with a diverse lineup of events on campus and in the community that offer a host of ways to honor and celebrate cultural heritage from student-led events to academic introspection. Discover a host of opportunities to learn more about the unique experiences, traditions, cultures, and contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Olin Library AAPI Heritage Month offerings

Olin Library

Throughout the month of May, the Olin Library will feature a curated collection of print and digital books, as well as films made by Asian American and Pacific Islander creators. The collection will spotlight the cultural impact of stories like Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, The Bone People by Keri Hulme, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong, and They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker.

Alfond Inn art collection
Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins Museum of Art Resources

To explore works on view at Rollins Museum of Art and The Alfond Inn and learn more about AAPI artists whose works are in Rollins Museum of Art’s permanent collection, click here.

Rollins student Eve Wasil '24 teaching Chinese
Photo by (left) Scott Cook.

Hands-On Research

In fall 2023, Asian studies and psychology double major Eve Wasil ’24 completed an independent study alongside education professor Jie Yu where she conducted a teaching and research project at the nonprofit Chinese School of Tomorrow (CST) in Central Florida. The experience was so formative that Wasil decided to continue teaching the same class for the spring 2024 semester.

Wasil will continue teaching Chinese language in Taiwan on her prestigious Fulbright assignment.

Trivia in Dave's Boathouse
Photo by Scott Cook.

Campus Celebrations

Trivia Night

  • When: Tuesday, April 16 | 8-9 p.m.
  • Where: Dave’s Boathouse

Brought to you by the Center for Campus Involvement, Curtis Earth will be hosting trivia night in Dave’s Boathouse: AAPI Heritage Month edition! Grab a friend and test your knowledge to win a prize.

Femme Aligned POC Lunch

  • When: Wednesday, April 17 | 12:30-2 p.m.
  • Where: Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, Room 340

Hosted in conjunction with the Asian American & Pacific Islander Student Union (AAPISU).

Campus Center dining
Photo by Scott Cook.

Campus Center Cuisine

  • When: April 29 – May 3
  • Where: The Marketplace

Dining Services celebrates AAPI Heritage Month with a mouthwatering spread that pays tribute to the culinary skill and creativity of Asian and Pacific Islander culture from around the world. Try dishes like traditional pad Thai with shrimp, Indian butter chicken with basmati pulao rice and naan, Hawaiian Huli Huli chicken over a bed of sticky coconut rice, Vietnamese banh mi, and more. Come hungry and ready to dig in.

Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month Celebration

  • When: Tuesday, April 30 | 12:30-2 p.m.
  • Where: Faculty Club

Join the Rollins Asian American & Pacific Islander Student Union for a vibrant celebration of AAPI heritage. Dive into the festivities with engaging activities such as yarn lei crafting while satisfying your taste buds with AAPI cuisine and embarking on a journey through history and heritage. All are welcome to join. Seniors will also receive their graduation stoles in a celebratory sendoff.

In the Community

Honoring Asian American Heritage & Culture

  • When: Saturday, May 4 | 2-4 p.m.
  • Where: Orange County Regional History Center

Celebrate Central Florida’s vibrant Asian American community through an exploration of traditional dance with performances by the Chinese American Association of Central Florida, Thuyen May Productions, and LTR Indian Dance. The program will have an introduction, led by Lanlan Kuang, in which visitors will consider the rich history and importance of performance art within the Asian diaspora. Enjoy a day filled with music, dance, and hands-on activities to captivate guests of all ages. Admission to this event is free, but registration is strongly encouraged.

Register for this free event on the History Center’s website.

Rollins Professor Featured for Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Professor Wenxian Zhang from Olin Library discusses the accomplishments and challenges of Lue Gim Gong, also known as the “Citrus Wizard,” who immigrated from China to the U.S. in 1872.

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