May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The month marks two important events in Asian American history: the arrival of the first known Japanese immigrants in 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, which was built in large part by Chinese immigrant workers. The Federal Asian Pacific American Council, responsible for leading the heritage month for the Federal government, has declared this year's theme as “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity”
According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of all Asian Americans include six origin groups; Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese. Chinese-origin Asians are the largest single origin group. There are at least 15 other origin groups including the rest of the countries in the Indian sub-continent, countries in Southeast Asia, and disputed countries like Taiwan.
Pacific Islanders include a diverse range of ethnic groups native to the Pacific Islands region. Major groups are Polynesians (including Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans), Melanesians (Fijians, Papua New Guineans, Solomon Islanders), and Micronesians (Chamorros, Palauans, Marshallese). These groups share common cultural traits and ancestry, but also have distinct identities.
Great ways to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month include:
The New York Public Library kicks off May’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a reading list, events, and programs. The reading list is categorized for Adults, Kids, and Teens. Take a look and contact your local library to see if they have a copy in their collection; many libraries can deliver books to your doorstep and offer electronic and audio versions as well. The NYPL list offers biographies and memoirs, essays, fiction, graphic novels, nonfiction, poetry, and short stories about and by AANHPI people.
If you’re looking for kid-friendly reading, the Disney Publishing Group offers a Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Storytellers and a Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Stories catalog. Staring both familiar favorite characters and new friends to meet, and including horror, adventure, romance, fairy tales and folklore, and more, introducing children to diverse viewpoints and backgrounds is easy with these titles.
Art & Culture
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art is physically located in Washington D.C. but maintains a virtual branch as well. Not sure what you’re in the mood for, art-wise? Scroll down the homepage and seek cultural connections.
Plan ahead now for the 13th Annual Orlando Asian Cultural Expo in October at Bill Frederick Park in Orlando Florida. You can expect exhibitions, performances, arts & crafts, and admission and parking are free! “Come experience and honor the wonders of Asian culture through exhibitions, performances, and crafts! Asian Cultural EXPO will be held together with the Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival which will be participated by more than 2,000 Corporate and Community members and more than 3,000 spectators.” according to the website.
The Orange County (Fla.) Regional History Center is taking a closer look at Asian American Pacific Islander history in the local community. From a book club to special events, the OCRHC is a great resource.
- The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco – Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, San Francisco, California
- The Rubin Museum of Art, New York, New York
- The Seattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
- The Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas, Texas
- The Noguchi Museum, Queens, New York
- The Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii
Lilo & Stitch, Moana, Turning Red, Raya and the Last Dragon… there’s no lack of AAPI-oriented programming at Disney!
Live-action movies and series include but are no limited to classics like Mulan and the Jungle Book to lesser-known gems like Doogie Kamealoha MD.
You can explore Asia and the Pacific with programming like Wild Cats of India, Japan: Between Earath and Sky, and Ancient China From Above.
And of course, in addition to the previously mentioned animated feature films, you can catch short films like Lava, Bao, and Float.
Disney+ offers a curated home for Asian & Pacific Islander Stories; enjoy yourself!
As Disney Cast Members, take advantage of your compensation and visit the Parks to sample AAPI cuisine!
EPCOT offers the China and Japanese pavilions for amazing Asian food along with Festival offerings.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers Asian tastes as well, representing a pan-Asian cuisine at the Yak & Yeti Restaurant as well as around the park at different outdoor quick service kiosks.
Disney Springs boasts Morimoto’s restaurant, and special offerings elsewhere; Korean Bulgogi Steak Hotdogs, anyone?
On the west coast, Disney’s California Adventure is home to the Lucky Fortune Cookery, serving an eclectic-fusion menu of pan-Asian favorites.
Outside the Parks, the 2023 Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month – Food Fest in Los Angeles is hosting live music, food, and a voter registration drive. Visit this open-air venue and enjoy a taste of AAPI Heritage.
Orange County (Fla.) Libraries are offering “Little Chef” events during the month to introduce children to Asian-style foods. Check your local library to see what might be available where you are!
In addition to the music and voices offered at previously mentioned museums, podcasts can be a great way to open up to other voices. Consider checking out podcasts like these from “Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with these 11 podcasts by AAPI creators”
Another option is to try a new app guides visitors through NYC's Chinatown with hidden stories. Composer George Tsz-Kwan Lam created an application called Family Association to weave music and oral history through Manhattan’s Chinatown. And don’t worry, if you’re not actually in New York you can still access some of the app’s functions to get those authentic voices.
The theme for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2023 is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.” Following AAPI leaders on social media could be a good way to lift others up.
One suggestion is to follow hashtags like:
You can also search your favorite professional networking site for “AAPI” and look for voices to follow and listen to there.
On your own social media accounts, you can share books, podcasts, events, and organizations you have been introduced to above, and recommend them to your family and friends.
In addition to all the previously mentioned museum and festival events, local libraries are hosting events to celebrate AAPI Heritage.
In Orange County, California, the library system presents Bilingual Chinese Story Time at Tustin Library, Adult Manga Meet-up at Irvine Katie Wheeler Library, and Little Saigon Stories – Author talk with Carolyn Huynh at Westminster Library just to name a few.
Orange County, Florida’s library, in addition to Little Chef cooking classes for children, is also offering workshops and seminars for children to learn more about AAPI people around them.
The Los Angeles Public Library is kicking off May with The Big Read from the National Endowment for the Arts and Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. They regularly offer in-person Yoga and Tai Chi classes at the Mid-Valley Regional Branch, and during the month’s celebration they’re offering additional classes and workshops for all ages, like a Kids’ Take-home craft session making paper leis and mini koinobori.
Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have always been a part of the American story. Through the observance and celebration of history and heritage months, understanding these elements of Cast Member’s lives can help us understand how people become who they are. Understanding and preserving our past is vital to our future.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month is a great opportunity to learn about the rich history, art, and traditions of the Hispanic and Latinx cultures. Here are some ideas on ways you can explore the vast flavors, sounds, and incredible stories.
Partners Honors All Who Served
In honor of our company's anchor of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, we solicit feedback and perspectives of those different from ourselves. In this spirit, we salute the 7% of American adults who are United States Military Veterans by recognizing our Partners cast members and their families who have served.