Whether it be to get a taste of authentic Indonesian food or to hear from famous speakers such as Wong Fu Productions, Asian Pacific American Heritage Week (APAHW) has something to offer everyone. A week focused on celebrating Asian culture and identity, APAHW aims to raise awareness towards the common issues the community faces on a broader scale while encouraging people from all different backgrounds to expand their own cultural perspectives.
“It’s not just about identity and where you come from, but how those things influence the way you think about art, politics, and the world around you and how it shapes the perspectives and positions you have,” says Armi Ahmad (W '19), Marketing Chair and one of the executive board members behind APAHW. “It’s about being proud of your culture, as well as learning to be more conscious of all the influences it has on your life.”
Gathering together hundreds of students, faculty, and speakers who come from varying cultural backgrounds each year, APAHW aims to not only celebrate Asian culture, but also to enlighten people with new perspectives by hearing from other parts of the Asian Pacific community.
“I think that having a whole week to celebrate Asian culture collectively is a unique opportunity for a lot of people,” says Min Park (C '21). “It’s special in that it gives them to chance to interact with people outside of the kinds of cultural groups they might normally be accustomed to. APAHW really exposes you to the broader APA (Asian Pacific American) community.”
But beyond a cultural context, APAHW hopes to encourage attendees to reconsider the kinds of perspectives they’ve developed and how they might affect their relationships with those around them.
“Given the current climate of things—not just politically, but in a lot of different contexts—I think human narratives have become a lot more multilayered,” explains Armi. “I think there’s become this increasing awareness of how it’s possible to be flawed as humans, and sometimes it becomes easy to forget that everyone around you has their own vivid existence that’s just as real as yours.”
This year, during the week–long celebration that runs from November 12 to November 19, the group decided to focus their events around the theme of Dimensions. “With this theme, it’s really just about stepping back and realizing the dimensions that each person you walk by has,” continues Armi. “Although it’s not always a possible or easy thing to do, it’s important to put that kind of frame of thinking into focus.”
Whether it be hearing from incredible speakers within the Asian community or watching breathtaking performances from one of Penn’s many cultural groups, APAHW provides students with a celebration like no other. “I went to APAHW as a freshman and I remember talking to so many people that I still keep in contact with,” explains Min. “I think it’s something everyone should try to experience especially because you’re not necessarily participating in anything or have to be very involved at all, you’re just attending an event where you can celebrate your cultural identity wherever you come from and meet other people who genuinely care about doing that too.”