My child’s school has only about 7% Asians. Unlike Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, our school does not have enough families to make a core and have an evening program celebrating Asian Heritage. But I still want to celebrate Asian heritage at his school. You can read about how I became Asian Culture Chair at my son’s school here.
The first year, my son’s kindergarten teacher volunteered to get a group together to plan events for Asian Pacific Heritage Month. I wrote about that here. She left teaching for a year or so and the next year no one volunteered to step up and organize something. So without school help, our celebration was smaller.
In 2014, the librarian still displayed Asian books in the library and put up posters of Asian Americans around the school. I created a display in the atrium of the school and used the money I got as chair of the Asian Culture Committee to contribute to an Asian performer for the Cultural Arts and Assemblies Committee. And one of the teachers wrote announcements to highlight prominent Asian Americans. These announcements were read during the morning announcements throughout the month.
Last year, we had Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo perform Asia Fantasia for our school. He did an excellent job and he was well received. For my display, I didn’t plan that well in advance. I displayed two Vietnamese outfits (ao dai) and a Chinese boy outfit. I displayed some lucky money envelopes and a Chinese fan along with a small picture done by a Chinese artist. And a couple of small lanterns.
This year, again, the librarian put out the Asian books, and posters. On one of the afternoons they are going to have a “Drop everything and read” and read Asian themed books for half and hour. And they are going to do the announcements to highlight famous Asian Americans again.
I spent a little more time planning my Asian Heritage display. I posted on our school list serve if people have some Asian items that I could display vertically that were neither valuable or sentimental. No one volunteered items. But one of the parents on the International Night Committee is married to a Malaysian, so I asked and received the use of a Malaysian outfit and then she emailed some pictures I could print out.
Rather than do the same thing I did has year, I surveyed my display area and decided to have three themes this year.
Theme one was “Rice”. I had an empty 20 lb. bag of rice. Rice is a common food in Asian countries and is a big export item. I googled pictures of rice being grown and rice dishes from various countries. I printed them out in color on a color printer (Staples) and put them up. I also added a conical hat, used by workers in the rice fields in Vietnam. I also printed out explanations of the pictures and a little about rice production in Asia.
Theme two was “Malaysia”. I created a “Malaysia” sign, because we didn’t have one from previous years. The mom who let me the outfit, sent me some information about it and some pictures of Malaysia from here iPhone. I was going to use the pictures and print them out, but the resolution was too low to print 8″x10″. So I googled the place names and found some pictures on google with higher resolution and printed a couple of them out along with a map. I captioned the photos, explained a little about the outfit and showed where Malaysia is on the map.
Theme three was Chinese Lion Dance. I have a child size Chinese Lion Dance costume. I printed out a photo of people doing a lion dance along with a laughing Buddha. I included a little bit of information about the Chinese Lion Dance. And then when I looked at the display, I added a fan to the top, since the laughing Buddha usually teases the Lion Dancers with a fan.
Around the display, are the names of Asian countries where students are from. I advertised that the display was in the school Atrium to our school list serve and. The display was finished just in time for grandparents’ and special friends’ day, and was at least appreciated by the older crowd. I also let my child’s teacher know it was there and hoped that she could lead the class by it sometime during May.
I gave my money as Asian Culture Chair again to have an Asian themed performance. I don’t know if the actors are actually Asian, but the theme is Asian. The Smithsonian Associates Discovery Theater on Tour is performing “Tigers, Dragons, and other Wise Tales“. At the time I booked the program, the actors had not even been hired. Our school will see the program later this month.
There may only be six years that our school celebrates Asian Pacific Heritage Month, but we will be celebrating this while my child is a student here.