[COLUMN] May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

By Camille Maben / First 5 California Executive Director

Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month celebrates the rich and diverse Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander heritages that span the world and the depths of American history. Generations after generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have continued to make America their home and contributed so much to the fabric of our country.

Each May, we recognize the contributions and accomplishments of the AAPI community and celebrate the diverse cultures that make California a great place to live, work and raise a family.

While we continue to keep our communities, families and little ones safe during the pandemic, we are finding ways to celebrate AAPI heritage and culture this May and every day at home and virtually. As the mother of two Korean American daughters, I have grown to appreciate and understand the powerful histories of our AAPI communities and their struggles. This has never been more important now, with the rise in Anti-Asian hate. We here at First 5 California, stand in absolute solidarity with the AAPI community during this dark time in our history.

We take this time to honor the traditions, history and contributions of the AAPI community and have a few ways our communities can join us in this celebration.

Connect with ancestral roots and culture—Share about family traditions and heritage, connecting virtually with family and community members to share stories about what they love about AAPI culture. Talk to children in both a home language and English–learning two or more languages gives children a bilingual advantage from birth and offers a wide range of learning benefits for the rest of their lives and will help them gain more appreciation for their culture and traditions.

Read together—Now is the perfect time to enjoy books and stories about AAPI cultures and influential AAPIs. Carve out time this month to read to children and talk about family and cultural traditions and introduce them to different perspectives. There are so many great books that feature AAPI main characters and explore the diverse cultures within the AAPI community. Check out the local library’s virtual storytime offerings this month!

Sing and dance together—Listen to songs at home and during car rides to encourage creativity and cultural expression. Create a new tradition of singing and dancing with children.

Cook and eat together—Embark on a cultural culinary journey by preparing favorite family recipes together to celebrate AAPI heritage. Trying new meals from different cultures is also a great way to learn about the diverse traditions and foods in the AAPI community together.

Play together—Find quality time to teach young children about traditional games or engage in arts and crafts time to learn about different cultures.

Learn and explore together—Watch a favorite movie or show celebrating AAPI culture. If you have a public library card, you can stream movies for free. Museums are also offering virtual heritage month educational programs.

This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, take steps to protect you and your loved ones from getting or spreading COVID-19. Wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and practice social distancing. More information, tips, support, and resources for parenting during a pandemic are available at www.first5california.com/covid.

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