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Campus-Wide Programming Highlights Inclusivity for Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Awareness Month

AAPI Awareness Month flyer

With an official title change and a direct focus on issues of identity and legacy, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Awareness Month (APIDAAM) has booked a full schedule of virtual and in-person programming starting from April 1. Previously known as Asian American Awareness Month (AAAM), the title was changed this year in order to create an inclusive awareness month for all Asian-identifying communities.

Although May is generally marked as the national Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month–when the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States are recognized–campus festivities are typically held during April to accommodate the semester schedule.

This year’s APIDAAM theme is “Passing the Torch” and is intended to promote discussions on the idea of identity in APIDA communities and how that contributes to the formation of individual and personal identities.

According to the APIDAAM planning committee, the theme “symbolizes the legacy we don’t necessarily leave behind but hand it off to the next generation. The torch symbolizes the guidance of our ancestors, traditions, and the stories of our lives and identities that will shape the future. The torch is important because it symbolizes our light from the past generation and our guide to the next generation. In recent years, especially during the pandemic, the Asian community has endured unfortunate events and increasingly widespread violence against the community. In times like these, we often lose sight of who we are, and it is important to regain that focus.”

The APIDAAM Kick-Off event will be held on Friday, April 1 from 12PM – 1:30PM in Student Center East (IL Room AB). It is one of three in-person events scheduled for the month; the other two are the Greeks of the Pan Asian American Council (GPAAC) Showcase on Wednesday, April 13 from 5PM – 7:30PM (also in IL Room AB) and the AARCC Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to be held at the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center on Wednesday, April 20 from 3PM – 4PM.

In addition, there are several virtual events scheduled for APIDAAM.

On Tuesday, April 5 from 12:30PM – 1:20PM, the virtual session Exploring Mental Health and Obstacles Among APIDA-identifying Individuals will facilitate a discussion around the complexity of mental health within the APIDA communities.

From Thursday, April 7 through Friday, April 8, the UIC Global Asian Studies Program (GLAS) will host the Breaking Boundaries: Pedagogies of Global Asia virtual symposium in order to bring together scholars, students, and community partners working to develop pedagogies of Global Asian Studies.

On Tuesday, April 12 from 1PM – 3PM, the virtual session Inawemaagan – Relatives across the waters: Asian-Native American Artists in Conversation will feature a panel discussion centered on being both Asian-American and Native American.

The final virtual session–Aloha from Hawai’i: My Journey as a Pacific Islander in STEM Research and Higher Education–will be held on Thursday, April 14 from 12:30PM – 1:30PM with Dr. Leslyn Hanakahi, Associate Professor at the UIC College of Pharmacy, as the speaker.

The first Asian American Awareness Week at UIC was held in March 2000 and organized by the Coalition for Asian American Studies. Over the past 20 years, it has expanded into a month-long event hosted with collaboration from the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Asian Americans, the Asian American Resource & Cultural Center (AARC), and–as of 2018–the UIC Center for Student Involvement with continued support from AARCC.