Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Celebrate Your Story

For Parents May 20, 2022

‌‌‌‌Each May, our nation celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month — an opportunity to learn about and pay tribute to the enormous and diverse contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made throughout American history. ‌‌‌‌Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans play a large role in the history of the United States. Contributing to stronger societies as individuals and as a group, their ancestry tracks back to continental Asia (the Middle East, East Asia and Southeast Asia) and the Pacific Islands (Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia) in the United States. The contributions of the AAPI community are vast from art to politics and much more.   ‌‌

“Like all days and months designated to honor a certain group, we should not think of AAPI Heritage Month as the end of learning about and celebrating the contributions of AAPI people, but as a doorway to greater inclusion of the stories and lives that have been too often overlooked or elided.” —Helsa Thompson, Outschool DEIB Community Lead  ‌‌‌‌

AAPI Heritage Month is a chance to learn more about the amazing stories and impact of the AAPI people, past and present, who have helped shape our community. Read on to learn more from our Outschool educators on what inspires their path and how they find ways to celebrate their stories.

‌‌‌‌Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage: Past and Present‌‌‌‌‌‌, The inception of AAPI ‌‌‌‌

May is significant because the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States on May 7, 1843, a young fisherman named Manjiro, who arrived May 7, 1843, and the Transcontinental Railroad was finished on May 10, 1869 by a majority of Chinese immigrant workers. After failed individual resolutions in the House and Senate in 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution the following year that proclaimed the “7-day period beginning on May 4, 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.” In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill expanding the week to the full month.

At Outschool, we’re so grateful to connect with phenomenal educators every day. These wonderful educators are dedicated to their work and make an impact to learners around the globe. ‌‌‌‌We’re proud to feature these Outschool Educators and share their diverse perspectives with our community. ‌‌

Meet Sachiko:

‌‌‌‌I'm a certified teacher of Japanese, Mandarin, and Art. I grew up speaking Japanese, Mandarin, and Taiwanese. Also, many years of freelance tutoring experience for Japanese and Mandarin have helped me teach all Japanese levels, including Pre-AP and AP classes at my former employment of 9 years at a public high school. I hope you will have fun and enjoy my classes.‌‌‌‌

Q: What isn't taught or celebrated that should be?

To understand and appreciate any perspective, one must understand the backstory or the history. For example, past experiences helped shape great minds. I believe students need a complete picture of history. ‌‌

Q: If you could share one fact about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month that you want learners to know about, what would it be?

Staying curious and wanting to learn about other cultures. ‌‌‌‌

Q: Some incredible icons have paved the way for diversity, hope, and equality. Is there someone that has helped inspire the path in your life?

I cannot pick only one, but I must say I learned world history and read many biographies of inventors, musicians, and historical figures through reading manga when I was young. That was an excellent introduction for me to want to learn more about the world, history, and other cultures as a young reader. I want parents to know that reading manga is a great way to introduce complex subjects.‌‌

Q: How has your heritage inspired your path or helped you share your unique talents/skills with students worldwide?

I grew up in a home with three different languages used all the time. So I share with my students the importance of creating an environment where having easy access to your target language is very important. Watch more TV shows in your target language, read more in that language, or listen to podcasts in that language. Whatever you do, it will only help you learn new words and expressions. I recently started teaching a kanji class that aims to expand Japanese language learners' vocabulary, but I also teach the meaning and pronunciation of each character in Mandarin Chinese.  ‌‌‌‌

Q: If you could recommend one tip for students on how to celebrate their story, what would it be?

I find listening to stories and experiences of others the most natural way of learning for myself. The best tip I can give is if you want to celebrate another person's story is to share the story with others.‌‌

Q: What do you love most about teaching on Outschool?

I miss being in a classroom with my students, but Outschool has made it possible for me to share my passion for teaching Japanese and Mandarin to students from all over the world. My classroom is no longer constrained to the boundary of a physical space, which I love the most about teaching at Outschool.‌‌

Q: How can educators of all backgrounds incorporate Asian American and Pacific Islander history and perspectives in their classes?

As a language teacher, I teach students to see things from many different perspectives. As educators, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander history can probably be done by introducing authors, athletes, musicians, cartoonists, or even actors, which can help students relate to and understand history.


Meet Miss Jenny Chen:

Miss Jenny’s Studio is a virtual art studio composed of a group of passionate artists with many years of experience in education and administration. The mission of Miss Jenny’s studio is to foster the artist in every learner to envision a better world. The studio offers classes for ages 4 -13 that are fun, social, and creative.  ‌‌‌‌

Q: Some incredible icons have paved the way for diversity, hope, and equality. Is there someone that has helped inspire the path in your life?

One of my favorite artists, Yayoi Kusama, has inspired me to pursue the artist path because she is an Asian artist who is highly recognized in North America. ‌‌

Q: How has your heritage inspired your path or helped you share your unique talents/skills with students worldwide?

I started on Outschool teaching drawing and painting and now have grown to run an organization. One of our most popular classes is our weekly watercolor clubs. My interest in watercolor stemmed from the desire to connect with my heritage through traditional Chinese paintings. Also, these types of paintings use ink, which has a similar effect to watercolor. ‌‌

Additionally, we're launching a series of art clubs taught in Mandarin in the winter. I have noticed that many of my current learners speak Mandarin, and it would be wonderful to start a community of Mandarin-speaking young artists.‌‌

Q: What do you love most about teaching on Outschool?

What I love most about Outschool is its diversity and accessibility! During the 2 years I have taught on the platform, I have had the privilege to work with learners worldwide. I love meeting learners who live on the other side of the world and yet have shared heritage with me. I remember one class where I had learners in the U.S., Singapore, and China, and I could hear their families speaking Mandarin in the background. It was an incredibly heartwarming experience. ‌‌

I also love that I get to work from home during the global pandemic and still reach learners in my everyday job. I also enjoy the random times when I had learners taking classes in their car, grocery store, etc. As long as they have a will to learn, I am excited to teach them wherever they are.‌‌

Q: How can teaching Asian American and Pacific Islander history and heritage impact learners of all backgrounds?

Teaching about AAPI history and heritage will give learners a more extensive picture understanding of history. Also, this is important as AAPI has contributed significantly to America's culture and society. ‌‌‌‌

Asian American and Pacific Islander Outschool Classes:

‌‌Watercolor Wander: Flower Art Club ‌‌
Learn Japanese Through Culture ‌‌
Weekly Vietnamese Classes for Beginners ‌‌
1/1 Tutoring for AP Japanese ‌‌
AAPI Series: Listen up - Music Appreciation for Asian American Musicians ‌‌
Hawaii Club: All About Hawaii   ‌‌‌‌‌‌

More Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Resources:

‌‌Whether you’re looking for a new book for storytime, an online family event, or additional educational opportunities, check out this list below:

‌‌Smithsonian Asian Pacific & American Center ‌‌
New York Public Library: AAPI Heritage Month ‌‌
A Kids Book About Anti-Asian Hate ‌‌
26 Children’s & YA Books Written By Asian Authors  ‌‌‌‌

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Craft Your Kid’s Journey ‌

Come celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Month at Outschool
Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Your history, past, and culture can help shape who you’re meant to be. Having the chance to learn from others and the path they walked, you can better understand the world around you. ‌‌‌‌

Thompson states, “Let’s use this AAPI Heritage Month to commit to the work of ensuring that our community is a welcoming and inclusive place, and to learning more about the amazing stories and impact of the AAPI people, past and present, who have helped make our community what it is."

Whether your kid loves art, music, language, or a mix of a few topics, your learner has the chance to discover new cultures, history, and embrace the differences all around them with Outschool. Most importantly, we’d like to thank our Outschool educators for all you do every day for kids around the world. ‌‌‌‌

For more on our DEIB series, check out What Black History Educators Want You To Know‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌

Kelli Rascoe

Kelli is a Creative Strategist at Outschool. She's the proud momma to a superhero princess and a pack of rescue dogs. When she's not creating, you can find her watching tv or eating vegan treats.