Each May, the United States’ Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates the achievements, progress, and inclusion of people and cultures from over 50 countries and island nations.
Originating in a congressional bill in 1978 and presented by President Jimmy Carter to commemorate the anniversary of the Transcontinental railroad, Asian Pacific American Heritage Week was expanded in 1992 by Congress and President H.W. Bush to the entirety of May. Communities and schools across the country celebrate with cultural events that honor the achievements of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. Often, the only topic presented in schools is Asian immigrant involvement in constructing the Transcontinental railroad, but Asian Pacific American history goes well beyond just one event. Consider showcasing to students the perspectives of Chinese, Japanese, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Central Asian, Micronesian, Melanesian, Polynesian (including Hawaii), and Filipino Americans in history and celebrate individuals who have had amazing achievements!
Use these featured resources to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
- Resource lists from museum and governmental sources
- U.S. Census information
- Uncommon Voices from Virginia Commonwealth
- Library of Virginia Sources
- NEA K-12 Lesson Plans
Special Note: Take particular care when exploring the information, lesson plans, and activities for students to participate in so that you can teach a balanced approach to history and culture. Ensure your lesson resources are age-appropriate for your classroom environment.
Example Activity for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
- A common issue for students and adults is knowing your geography in uncommon places. Using the eMediaVA interactives, practice the different regions of Asia and the Pacific.
- After learning about the different regions, countries, and nations, have students choose a location in each region to find a person or people of American significance. For example: In East Asia, the nation of Japan. Japanese American soldiers joined the fight in World War II to showcase their patriotic and civic duty even during times of Japanese American Internment.
- Have students collect the information and an image if possible into a slide deck that can be showcased to the rest of the class.
Nick Dzendzel is a Social Studies Specialist in Virginia Beach Public Schools and is an eMediaVA Ambassador.