May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month

We celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Heritage month in May to recognize the experiences of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and their many contributions to the history and culture of the United States. The influence of these communities started as early as 1763, when the first Asian settlement was established by Filipino fishermen in Louisiana. At Penn State, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA)/AANHPI students, faculty, staff, and alumni have a rich history of shaping our institution and experiences, and inspiring and empowering all our communities within and beyond the university. Penn State’s current president, Dr. Neeli Bendapudi started her tenure as the 19th President of Penn State in 2022 as the first woman, the first person of color, and the first person of Asian origin to hold this office.  

May was first designated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in 1990, though weeklong celebrations have existed since 1979. Currently, the month-long commemoration highlights the contributions of the almost 25 million people of Asian origin, and the 1.8 million Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The APIDA community is not a homogenous group. There is a tremendous diversity in national and ethnic origins, religions, languages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and immigration history – some individuals are first-generation immigrants, while others have been here for five or more generations.  

In April 2021, the first-ever conference by students from Penn State APIDA Caucus and South Asian Law Students Association explored this multifaceted APIDA experience and its impact on community, solidarity and social justice. The Centre County community group, PanAPIDA Circle, which was created in 2021, has been working to elevate APIDA voices, increase APIDA representation, and celebrate APIDA joy to counter increasing anti-Asian hate. Recently to mark AANHPI month, the second APIDA Heritage Festival with a “Night Market” theme was organized in downtown State College by Penn State APIDA Caucus students in collaboration with the community group PanAPIDA circle, Borough of State College and Penn State’s Paul Robeson Cultural Center. This May, local governments including Centre County, Borough of State College, Ferguson Township and Patton Township, will issue proclamations to celebrate AANHPI heritage month.  

What we can do: