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SXU Celebrates Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month


Throughout the month of May, Saint Xavier University (SXU) celebrates Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), a time to honor the achievements and contributions of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders and the significant contributions they have made to the sciences, arts, government and commerce.

While we couldn't celebrate on campus due to COVID-19, the community can celebrate virtually by visiting the library to view a display of books, films and performance art collected in recognition of APAHM. The rich heritage of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders is thousands of years old and has shaped the history of the United States.

As a broad term, "Asian-Pacific" encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island), as well as the Indian subcontinent and South Asia, including Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders because of two important anniversaries: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843; and the completion of the transcontinental railroad by Chinese laborers on May 10, 1869. From the more than 1 million immigrants who journeyed across the Pacific and arrived on Angel Island to the Chinese-American laborers who risked their lives to link our coasts by rail, the determination of this vibrant community represents the best of our national character.

"Throughout history, many Asians immigrated to the United States to chase their American dreams. Some tried so hard to conquer the language barrier and some have disassociated themselves from the dark regime in their home country. They work hard and make great contributions to this country," said Song Wang, Ph.D., Graham School of Management (GSM) professor.  

Embodying the soaring aspirations of the American spirit and marching forward with courage, grit and an abiding belief in American ideals, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have challenged our nation to be better. The May commemoration pays tribute to all those in the community who have worked for a brighter future for the next generation and all those who continue to do so daily.

"Asian-Americans have made great sacrifices when duty calls, fighting bravely and proudly for America. During World War II, 21 Asian-American servicemen were awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in the battlefield, and that was at a time when Asian-Americans made up only 0.02% of the country," said Wang.

As one of eight core values, SXU proudly celebrates diversity amongst its students, faculty and staff, and in our commitment to preparing students to be responsible, respectful members of society, we encourage our community to continue to educate themselves and others so we might disarm microagressions and promote celebration of diversity through our leadership.

"Now, Asian-Americans count for 5.6% of the United States population. They are an ethnicity group whose identities must be respected and treatment must be equal. 'Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry,' as President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said," added Wang.

Diversity strengthens our academic programs and educational environment by preparing students to live and work in a culturally-rich, global society, and we are grateful for the many contributions made by Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. We are proud to celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month now and every day.