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Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month

Texas A&M University is celebrating APIDA Heritage Month this April. A professor in the Department of History discusses why this month is important on campus.

By Tiarra Drisker ‘25

This April, the Asian Presidents’ Council and the Department of Multicultural Services are leading Texas A&M University’s celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month. This month is intended to uplift APIDA identities, experiences, histories, and cultures.

Nationally, APIDA Heritage Month is celebrated in May in commemoration of the first Japanese immigrants arriving in the U.S. and the completion of the transcontinental railroad. APIDA Heritage Month is celebrated in April at Texas A&M  to ensure a full month of festivities before classes end in early May.

“APIDA Heritage Month is a time for us to recognize the enormous diversity among and within APIDA communities and to celebrate the myriad of ways our community has shaped the social and cultural fabric of the United States,” Rachel Lim, a visiting assistant professor and ACES Fellow in the Department of History shared. “Asian and Asian American experiences within the state of Texas and here at Texas A&M continue to be marginalized and made invisible. This is a great opportunity for Asian American students, faculty, and staff to show their presence but also to help talk about the different ways we have contributed to the university. One of the best ways to participate is to look at the events calendar put together by the [Asian Presidents’ Council].

The Asian Presidents’ Council aims to create and represent an inclusive APIDA community in order to enhance the Aggie experience and promote APIDA awareness at Texas A&M. Year-round, the Asian Presidents’ Council recognizes and pays tribute to the contributions generations of individuals within the APIDA community have made to American history, society, and culture.

“This year our theme was ‘Nurture Your Nature’ to highlight the resilience of the APIDA community as well as the importance of self-care,” Erin Feng ‘24, a co-director of programming on the Asian Presidents’ Council said. “To me, APIDA Heritage Month is important because it gives us the time and space to celebrate our culture and history. Several of our events offer a safe space to facilitate important conversations about identity and race.”

Texas A&M offers a number of student organizations for APIDA students, and students and faculty within the APIDA community are working to expand the opportunities to celebrate and commemorate those within the APIDA community by including Asian Americans in the university’s curriculum. Currently, the Asian studies minor is offered through the Department of International Studies. APIDA students and faculty wish to expand the educational opportunities for APIDA people by adding Asian American Studies to the university’s impressive educational offerings.

“Texas has the third-highest population of Asian Americans in the country, but our course catalog does not include courses that reflect the diversity of our campus and our state,” Feng explained. “We started a new initiative this semester called the Asian American Studies Initiative (AASI).”

At a time where hate crimes against people of Asian descent have risen by 339%, educating and appreciating APIDA heritage and history is vital. The rise of anti-Asian hate can be attributed to xenophobia, which is defined as “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.” Education is proven to help combat xenophobia.    

“When Asian American students experience incidents like these, they don’t have an outlet to discuss those experiences and put them in appropriate historical contexts,” Lim said. “The national discourse on hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans has made it very hard to ignore what’s happening in our own communities. Now is the time for us to think strategically and boldly about what we can do to make this a more inclusive campus and how we can produce spaces for people to feel safe to talk about their experiences.” 

Throughout Texas A&M’s APIDA Heritage Month, Aggies can expand their knowledge of the culture and contributions the APIDA community has made throughout history. Campus is full of opportunities to engage in APIDA Heritage Month events like an APIDA Heritage Month book display in Evans Library through the end of the month, and GraduAsian on May 11. More events and event details are available on the Asian Presidents’ Council website

Asian students have been coming to this university for over a hundred years and the experience of Asian American students here mirrors the experience of Asian American students across the nation,” Lim said. “This month, we should think about the ways that Asian and Asian American students have contributed to the vibrancy of campus culture and life. We should recognize these contributions. Asian American students have shaped not only what the campus is today and its international reputation, but they also reflect the vibrant diversity of the state of Texas and the nation.”