AASA plans Heritage Month celebration

Through this year’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Asian American Students Association hopes not only to celebrate its culture but to focus increased attention on recruiting Asian-American students.

AASA is observing Asian-American Heritage Month this April with a variety of cultural performances, community outreach programs and Asian-American speakers, including keynote speaker Ming Tsai ’86, a chef featured on the Food Network who visited campus last week. The association, which serves as an umbrella group for several Asian organizations on campus, will also seize the opportunity of Bulldog Days to welcome Asian-American pre-frosh into the Yale community.

“It’s very important to have a month where we can recognize the diversity within the Asian-American community,” said AASA moderator Chris Lapinig ’07. “It really gives the larger Yale community the chance to experience Asian-American diversity.”

Lapinig is a staff reporter for the News.

Lapinig said AASA has planned activities, such as a game night for Asian-American pre-frosh during Bulldog Days, to encourage more Asian-American students to matriculate. AASA is also embarking upon a letter-writing campaign to Asian-Americans who were admitted to the class of 2009.

“We’re really trying to reach out to Asian-Americans,” he said. “What most people don’t realize is that the number of Asian-Americans at Yale is shrinking.”

According to data from Yale’s Office of Institutional Research, the Asian-American population dropped 3.1 percent from 1996 to 2002.

On campus, Lapinig said there will be an art show in Silliman’s Maya’s Room in addition to cultural shows that many member organizations — including the South Asian Society, the Chinese American Students Association and Kasama, the Filipino student association — planned for April.

CASA member Allen Pan ’08 said he participated in the group’s cultural show on April 9 in the Medical School’s Harkness Auditorium.

“I was part of the lion-dance group that performed there,” he said. “It was very successful.”

Pan is a coordinator for CASA’s Chinese Adopted-Siblings Program at Yale, which is also scheduled to hold a day of outreach this month. He said CASPY invites Chinese children who have been adopted into American families to come to Yale and experience Chinese culture in CASA-sponsored activities.

“We also give them big sibs, which I think is the best part of the program, since it allows the participants to form relationships with Chinese-American students at Yale,” he said.

David Tran ’08, political action coordinator for the Vietnamese Students’ Association, said ViSA’s sponsored activities during April include a Berkeley Master’s Tea featuring Vietnamese poet Nguyen Chi Thien.

“[He's] a poet from Vietnam who was nominated for an international poetry prize for poems he wrote while he was in prison during the Vietnam War,” Tran said.

ViSA will sponsor various other activities this month in remembrance of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces on April 30, 1975, he said.

Lapinig said that although the national Asian-American Heritage month is actually May, the association has traditionally chosen to observe the month at Yale during April to avoid conflict with finals.

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