Whether it be through movie screenings or food trivia, the month of events for the Asian and Pacific Islander American Autumn aims to empower and unify the APIA community at UNC.
APIAutumn will feature 17 events from Oct. 23 to Nov. 18, with 18 different Asian-interest organizations collaborating. Asian Student Association president Jessie Huang said it’s the first time an event of this scale has happened on campus.
“We started planning over the summer,” Huang said. “It started with Google Hangout meetings and Facebook Messenger calls, and a lot of work between APIA interest groups on campus.”
The 17 events fall into five categories: workshop series, cultural, engagement, educational and community building. The month will culminate with the East Coast Asian American Student Union campus tour, a half-day conference which focuses on community building.
“ECAASU has a big national conference where they tour different campuses, and we had to apply to host it,” said Sabrina Cheung, a UNC junior and ECAASU national board member. “I get to see a lot of different friends come together, including people from different states on the national board. All of my friends will be there at the same time.”
First-year Manivannan Senthil is most looking forward to the movie screening for "Gook" on Oct. 30, which explores the tensions between African Americans and Korean Americans during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
“It’s the kick-off event, so I’m really excited about that,” Senthil said. “It’s an independent film on a topic not a lot of people know about.”
The ASA spearheads campus celebrations of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the spring, which features similar events over the course of the month. In an effort to be more inclusive to smaller APIA organizations on campus, the APIAutumn committee was formed.
“April is exam time and a lot people are burnt out by then,” Cheung said. “A lot of Asian American societies have big events in spring, so we couldn’t ask them to do a big collaboration during that time.”
As Asian-American representation is increasing on campus, Huang said it’s important to form a community that empowers one another.
“The percentage of APIAs over 40 years ago was in the single digits, but now it’s in the double digits,” Huang said. “It’s important to have Asian-American events like these so students can learn the histories of people who lived like them and had similar backgrounds to them.”
Huang also said that although the University has Asian studies classes, there is no curriculum for Asian-American studies, so it's up to students to raise awareness about Asian American issues.
“I identify as Chinese-American,” Huang said. “There’s a belief in our country that thinks being Asian and American is contradictory, but it’s not. The courses here focus on Asians in Asia, but there are so many stories about Asians who immigrate here and live here.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.