Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated every year during the month of May. AAPI month is dedicated to recognizing the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
As an AAPI business, we’ve hand-picked some of our favorite events, talks and content to help you celebrate with your team this May.
1. Learn the history of AAPI month
The best way to celebrate this month is by educating yourself on AAPI history. We recommend checking out Erika Lee’s “The Making of Asian America: A History” or the PBS documentary series “Asian-Americans”. This five-hour film series delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. Told through intimate personal stories, the series casts a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian-Americans have played.
You can also explore the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website for reading materials, virtual events, and talk forums for more in depth learning this month! Share these resources with your team to encourage inclusion for everybody!
2. Host an event
Hosting a hands-on event for your team is a great way to get together and celebrate while also bonding as a team.
Garden Streets offers a number of events centered around the AAPI experience. We’ve hand-picked a few of our favorites that highlight our AAPI hosts for an authentic and expert-led experience! You can find all of those events here.
A few of our favorites include:
- Build Your Own Bonsai
- Origami 101
- The Art of Kokedama
- Virtual Tea Tasting
- Calligraphy 101
- Dumpling Making
- Scallion Pancakes
- Bento Box 101
These events come with curated kits that are mailed out to each guest for a memorable and lasting team building experience that highlights some of the incredible culture and art of various AAPI communities.
3. Order Lunch from an AAPI restaurant
Support local restaurants and buy some takeout for the team. If your team is scattered throughout various locations, provide a gift card or reimbursement instead. Encourage people to research locally owned AAPI restaurants in their area. Then meet together for a virtual lunch to discuss what everybody ordered and the new, or old favorite, restaurant they went to.
For a true lunch and learn experience have your team research different countries in the Asian-Pacific region and learn about the region’s culinary culture then present and share.
Or book a lunch and learn with us to talk about the Evolution of AAPI Roles and Actors in Film History, Movie Appreciation with AAPI Themes, Calligraphy, Japanese Gardening, or Tea Making instead.
Contact us at email@example.com to set a date to learn with us!
4. Check out an art exhibit, virtually
Consider the diverse cultures of the AAPI community by looking at Asian art. Check out the Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art online.
Join the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center on artists’ immigration journeys. The Immigration Act of 1990, which included the creation of the H-1B Visa, opened up opportunities to many Asian immigrants skilled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
You can also look at Works by Asian American Artists from the Collection on this Pinterest Board made by the National Gallery of Art
5. Support an AAPI business
One of the most direct and sustainable ways to support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is to shop at AAPI-owned businesses. Consider sharing this list from the New York Magazine with 73 AAPI-owned businesses to support all year round.
Consider sending a stipend for people to shop from one of these businesses or see if there’s a way you can supplement or replace one of your provided office snacks, supplies, or art from one of these businesses instead.
6. Celebrate AAPI musicians
Music for the moment! Check out this special one-hour program featuring Asian American women musicians and performers who draw on different deep cultural heritages and contemporary genres–from performance art and ritual, to hip-hop, rock, and singer-songwriter pop. Featuring Dohee Lee, Ruby Ibarra, June Millington, and MILCK, with a special message from activist Amanda Nguyen.
7. Match donations
While there are numerous things you can do to support Asian communities around the country, one effective way to take action is by donating money.
Whether you want to choose one group to support throughout the month or offer to match any donation that an employee makes. A great place to find organizations that have been vetted and support Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander communities is this list from The Strategist.
Raising money together can be a great way to build excitement while also encouraging learning and support. Send reminders and updates throughout the month and then celebrate your overall donation with a fun team building event like the ones listed above.
8. Host a book club
A book club can be a great way to bring your team together by encouraging conversation that is unrelated to work. Show your support throughout the year by offering a stipend or sending everybody a book to read and discuss together. You can hold book club meetings weekly, biweekly, monthly, or choose to discuss at your own convenience through a shared slack or teams channel.
Having trouble self-organizing? Garden Streets can organize and lead a book club for your team and customize the books and topics of discussion to your goals.
Some books to read and share during AAPI month include:
“Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong
“The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen
“How to Pronounce Knife” by Souvankham Thammavongsa
“The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan
“Sour Heart” by Jenny Zhang
9. Start an Employee Resource Group
Support and empower members of the AAPI community yearlong to show that your commitment to diversity and inclusion extends beyond the month by launching an employee resource group.
Employee resources groups are made of employees of similar identities and provide a safe space to share similar experiences, bond, and brainstorm possible workplace improvements. Employee resources groups provide a sense of camaraderie, belonging, and psychological safety, and empower team members to advocate for their ideas and needs.
If the company does not have an employee resource group for Asian staff, then Asian Heritage month is a good time to introduce one. There are many professional or broader industry groups that you can research and connect employees with if your workforce alone is too small to sustain such a group.
The extra work of creating and sustaining an employee research group doesn’t need to fall on an individual. Here at Garden Streets we have experience creating, facilitating, and cultivating a variety of different employee resource groups, including Asian Heritage groups. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to get started with an ERG today.
10. Movie appreciation night (and discussion)
Encourage everybody to have a movie night and watch an AAPI written or directed show. This will facilitate conversation and bonding while also showing support for the AAPI community. If you don’t have a movie buff on the team, book an film professional with Garden Streets to help guide the conversation and lend a historical and expert view.
Here’s a list of some of our favorites:
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once (2022) Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Nomadland (2020) Chloé Zhao
Minari (2020) Lee Isaac Chung
Crazy Rich Asians (2018) John Chu
The Farewell (2019) Lulu Wang
Always Be My Maybe (2019) Nahnatchka Khan
Bitter Melon (2018) H.P Mendoza
Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987) Christine Choy
Tigertail (2020) Alan Yang
11. Take a virtual tour
Take an informative and engaging online tour with your team. Check out everything from museums, exhibits, and beautiful landscapes together.
Here are some destination suggestions:
12. Send out daily AAPI content
“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.”― Margaret Cho
In addition to special events and talks, sending short, bite-sized content throughout the month is an impactful and easy way to build awareness and engagement.
Our TouchPoints Chapter on AAPI Month is curated with timely and relevant information and sent via text, email or Slack, whichever method is easiest for your team.
Some examples include highlights in art, science and writing, inspirational quotes from AAPI authors, and actionable tips to incorporate in everyday life.
Learn more here.
The most important takeaway from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is that the celebrations and learnings go beyond the month. While it’s important to highlight and celebrate AAPI culture now, ask yourself and your team how you can continue your support to always thrive for a more inclusive workplace and world.
Keep exploring AAPI history, culture, and people beyond the month of May by prioritizing diversity in your daily activities and reading. From historical learnings to what you make for dinner tonight- inclusion and knowledge don’t stop when the month does.
“When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it.”
― Yo-Yo Ma