What Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Means to Me

A time for celebration and learning

Yinong Wang | Senior Academic Program Coordinator-Center for International Education/ NAU alumni

What culture(s) and/or ethnic group(s) do you identify with?

What does Asian-American or Pacific Islander mean to you?

As a faculty member who works directly with Asian students, my job is to protect them, make their voices be heard, and let them feel safe and happy when they are studying at NAU.

Can you share a favorite tradition from your culture(s)?

There is a saying “Chi jiaozi, Jiao Haoyun,” meaning eating dumplings gives you good luck. We usually place a coin in one of the dumplings, whoever gets the dumplings with the coin is considered the lucky one.

What’s your favorite cultural dish?

We have a saying in China: There isn’t a problem that can’t be solved in a hot pot.

If one hot pot can’t solve the problem, a second hotpot will. When people feel down, they usually eat hot pot. It is also a “dish “that people eat with family and friends.

How can people be better allies to the AAPI communities?

  • First thing is to respect.
  • Have an open mind about things that different from you.
  • Make friends with AAPI communities and learn from them.

The fact that this country is a melting pot of cultures is what drew me to live here in the first place. Diversity is one of our greatest assets as Americans.

Maria Manibusan DeCabooter |Assistant Director | NAU Social Media

What culture(s) and/or ethnic group(s) do you identify with?

What does being an Asian-American Pacific Islander mean to you?

It means continuing on the traditions that came thousands of years before you. As a Chamorro, it means belonging to something bigger than yourself. Inafa’maolekmaking things better — is one of the core values of our Chamoru culture. It means living harmoniously with each other, i tano (the land), i tasi (the ocean), and i gåga siha (the animals), and working together to make things right.

How do you celebrate AAPI month?

Can you share a favorite tradition from your culture(s)?

What’s your favorite cultural dish?

Red rice, chicken kelaguen, finadenne, and cucumber salad.

How can people be better allies to the AAPI communities

Take time to learn and educate yourself on what our communities have been through. Think before you ask questions

Even better — do your research and then have an educated conversation.

What’s one misconception about being AAPI you’d like to clear up?

I would just like to reinforce that people who live in the territories are U.S. citizens. Although we can’t vote in presidential elections — we are still citizens and are all Americans too.

Stayson Isobe | Associate Athletic Director/Communications

What culture(s) and/or ethnic group(s) do you identify with?

What does being an Asian-American or Pacific Islander mean to you?

Given how I was raised by my parents, my values and character are rooted deep in both the Asian and specifically Japanese cultures. It is who I am and who I will always be.

Can you share a favorite tradition from your culture(s)?

When I was younger, it was very customary for my parents to display the “koinobori,” which are carp streamers that “swim” in the tradewinds in front of homes.

The carp is a symbol for males in Japanese culture due to its qualities associated with strength, perseverance, and longevity. Seeing the streamers proudly displayed in front of my house is, and was, always fond memory.

What’s your favorite cultural dish?

How can you go wrong with sushi, right? But some other traditional Japanese dishes that I enjoy are tempura — particularly shrimp tempura — and katsu.

How can people be better allies to the AAPI communities?

But as is the case in the current climate with the recent hate crimes against the AAPI community, if you see anti-Asian violence, speak out. It really boils down to being more educated though.

I think a lot of people don’t know the full history and the corresponding struggles that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have encountered, and myself included, we can all be more educated of others.

What’s one misconception about being AAPI you’d like to clear up?

Because others may think that we have no reason to complain, or any reason to fight back, is frustrating because it leaves so many members of the AAPI community invisible to their socioeconomic struggles.

Precilla Comesario Cox| Academic Advisor, Sr. for the School of Hotel & Restaurant Management

What culture(s) and/or ethnic group(s) do you identify with?

What does being an Asian-American Pacific Islander mean to you?

What’s your favorite cultural dish?

Holly Wheeler| Assistant Director, Education Abroad, Ph.D. Student in Applied Linguistics

What culture(s) and/or ethnic group(s) do you identify with?

What does being an Asian-American or Pacific Islander mean to you?

Navigating my identity as a Chinese American, I grew up confused about my identity due to expectations placed on me about my heritage that because I look Chinese, I should speak the language and only identify as Chinese.

I studied abroad during junior year of undergrad to China in search of what I felt was missing. When I returned home, and realized that there wasn’t anything missing, but rather I had a better understanding of my cultural heritage and how it makes me who I am today.

Here at NAU, now I help students study and intern abroad for their own transformational and life-changing experience, whether that be in search of their own family heritage or another culture they wish to learn more about.

Victor Vongpraseuth|Senior Videographer for University Marketing

What culture(s) and/or ethnic group(s) do you identify with?

What does being an Asian-American Pacific Islander mean to you?

Can you share a favorite tradition from your culture(s)?

What’s your favorite cultural dish?

How can people be better allies to the AAPI communities?

Stop being “casually” racist.

There’s a local video production company that I looked up and while going through their YouTube uploads, I found a parody, music video they had created where a white actor gave the most racist portrayal of an Asian person –complete with cooking and eating dog nonsense. This music video was over 3 minutes long. Someone at this company thought it was okay to write, film, edit, and then post this thing to the Internet in the 21st century

What’s one misconception about being AAPI you’d like to clear up?

I believe that the “model minority” stereotype makes people believe that being casually racist to Asians is fine and it discredits the struggles of poor Asian Americans and other minority groups.

Austin Young | Digital Communications Specialist | NAU Social

What culture(s) and/or ethnic group(s) do you identify with?

What does Asian-American or Pacific Islander mean to you?

How do you celebrate AAPI month?

Reflection.

That means reflecting on the story of the people whom lead to the point where I was born as an Asian-American. The story of how my grandparents crossed the Pacific to seek opportunity and a new life for their family. How my mother, an immigrant at a young age, was shaped by the country she found to call home and how that factored in my upbringing and my connection to the mainland Filipino culture. A culture that in my household is also intertwined with the Filipino-American culture found here in the Southwestern states.

As I grew older, I wanted to learn more about the mainland culture of the Philippines which lead to me co-founding the very first Filipino club here at NAU — NAU FASA. This is where I understood that I only knew piece of what it means to be Asian-American and that by learning the stories and knowledge of others, I could slowly piece together an even bigger understanding.

AAPI month amplifies this by bringing fourth a much larger and more encompassing dialogue and sharing of the different cultures and narratives that make up AAPI people.

Can you share a favorite tradition from your culture(s)?

Thanksgiving 2018

What’s your favorite cultural dish?

How can people be better allies to the AAPI communities?

To not generalize or stereotype people whom belong to the AAPI communities.

To understand that we are each individually a different person independent of our ethnic groups or cultures.

That we may hold pride in where we came from but it doesn’t define our personas, aspirations, and life choices.

What’s one misconception about being AAPI you’d like to clear up?

Growing up I was often called or misidentified as an ethnic group I did not belong to both jokingly and sincerely. This lead to me being typecast to whatever ethnicities or stereotypes that people saw me as. This left me questioning my self identity and standing in the world.

I find that both AAPI month and increased education have helped break down this misconception.

Have a story to share? Send to social@nau.edu

It’s always a great day to be a Lumberjack! Join the conversation and share your #NAU story.

It’s always a great day to be a Lumberjack! Join the conversation and share your #NAU story.