Rollins Celebrates Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

April 27, 2023

By Jen Atwell ’11 ’20MBA

Rollins professors and students do the Chinese Dragon Dance in celebration of the Lunar New Year.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins honors the lives and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through myriad opportunities for engagement and education.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush designated the month of May as Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, paying tribute to the generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have been instrumental in the story of America. May was selected as the celebration month to commemorate when the first Japanese people immigrated to the U.S. in 1843.

From student-led events to new courses, Rollins offers a host of opportunities to learn more about the unique experiences, traditions, cultures, and contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Olin Library

Throughout May, the Olin Library will feature a curated collection of books, both print and digital, as well as films created by members of the AAPI community. The collection will spotlight the cultural impact of stories like Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, The Bone People by Keri Hulme, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong, and They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker.

English professor Martha Cheng in class with her students.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Critical Coursework

In Asian American Identity Through Representation—offered for the first time in fall 2022—adjunct professor and assistant director of international programs Mary Choi Robinson leads students on an examination of how Asian American identity is represented through various lenses, including media, the arts, gender, food, and politics. In this course, students gain a historical and contextual foundation of Asians in America and the challenges and consequences of representation or misrepresentation.

In another class that debuted this fall, Asian American Stories, English professor Martha Cheng and her students explore diversity within Asian American experiences through contemporary fiction, memoir, film, comedy, visual art, and television. The course grounds the texts in historical context as well as theories of racial identity to question what creatives tell us about being Asian American.

Both courses will be offered again in fall 2023.

Let's Get Literary podcast hosts

Let’s Get LITerary

On their podcast, launching May 5, the women of Let’s Get LITerary are joined by chemistry professor Ellane Park to discuss Weike Wang’s newest novel, Joan Is Okay. Heralded as one of the best books of 2022 by everyone from The New York Times Book Review to NPR, the novel follows a remarkably complicated Chinese American woman as she juggles the competing priorities of life and family.

Campus Celebrations

Asian American & Pacific Islander Student Union Senior Send-Off

  • Where: Rice Family Pavilion
  • When: Tuesday, May 2 | 12:30-2 p.m.

Join the Asian American & Pacific Islander Student Union (AAPISU) for their end-of-year celebration, where you’ll enjoy Hawaiian music, lei-making, and delicious AAPI cuisine. This student organization provides a community for those of AAPI identity or those who share a passion for AAPI culture while building awareness and creating educational opportunities for the Rollins community.

Campus Center Cuisine

  • Where: Skillman Dining Hall
  • When: Tuesday, May 2 | 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Dining Services celebrates AAPI Heritage Month with a one-day culinary takeover featuring East Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander cuisines at each of the food stations. Dishes will include japchae, a Korean dish of stir-fried glass noodles; pho, a Vietnamese soup; pani popo, sweet Samoan coconut rolls; and much more.

In the Community

Asian Americans in Florida: Their Histories & Contributions to the Sunshine State

  • Where: Orange County Regional History Center
  • When: Sunday, May 21 | 2-3 p.m.

Wenxian Zhang, professor and head of archives and special collections at Olin Library, will deliver a presentation that traces Asians’ experiences in Florida from the late 19th century to present day. Asian immigrants began arriving in the Sunshine State after the Civil War, and throughout the past 150-plus years, they’ve played an increasingly visible role in the state’s economic, social, and political affairs. The event will also include discussions on the life of Lue Gim Gong, a Chinese American horticulturist known as the “Citrus Wizard of Florida.”

Register for this free event on the History Center’s website.

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