Yale Daily News

Before the March 2020 Atlanta spa shootings, New Haven did not have a formal organizing group for the city’s AAPI residents. Following the tragedy,  AAPI members of the New Haven and Yale community came together to create aapiNHV, a group that can represent the diversity and rich history of AAPI peoples. 

Thirteen months later, aapiNHV has expanded its membership and is now planning three events in celebration of AAPI heritage month in May. 

“We have a lot of things planned this year, which is great,” said aapiNHV cofounder Jennifer Heikkila Díaz. “We’re also trying to have different kinds of events since different people want to engage in different ways with the group. The AAPI community is an umbrella. With so many languages, and so many cultures and so many, so many different cuts of identity that are represented under that. It doesn’t make sense for us to just have certain types of events …  and we really do want to live into our mission of being this intergenerational collective.” 

To kick off the month, the organization is planning a movie night at the Showtimes at Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas for the newly released majority-Asian sci fi film, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

According to Diaz, the group hosted a similar movie night for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” late last year for members of the New Haven community to attend. 

According to Anh Bton, aapiNHV, the group is also planning an event that is comparable to speed dating called the “World Cafe” method where large groups of people share their histories and experiences. 

“We just wanted to create a space where people of different generations of different backgrounds and different classes could come together and have a conversation around that while enjoying some food together,” Bton said. “So that’s another thing that we’re planning and we’re hoping to get some good turnout there.” 

Past these two events, Diaz told the News that the group is also planning to start a book club for people to share different AAPI perspectives and experiences. 

Storytelling is an important facet of aapiNHV, according to Diaz. She pointed out that many past meetings of aapiNHV have been centered around groups of people sharing their stories. 

In the spirit of storytelling, the group is also planning on hosting a gardening event where AAPI elders in New Haven can share their historical experiences with younger AAPI community members. According to Bton, gardening has historically been looked down upon but has recently come into style or “vogue.” The group hopes to help members of the community reflect on the historical implications of gardening. 

“I thought it would be nice to have some kind of event … we do something around bringing back that lens and understanding how these stories now inform the way that other folks may or may not do their gardening,” said Bton. “So we’re trying to plan a gardening community gardening related event right now and hopefully have some food there too.” 

According to Diaz, planning for these events has been a collaborative task with members of the AAPI community coming together to create events that can better highlight AAPI history both in the United States and across the world. 

aapiNHV stresses the horizonality of its leadership structure without any formal leaders. 

“Knowing our histories and sharing our stories can be grounding and confidence-building — for both us individually and as an AAPI community,” said Caroline Tanbee Smith, organizer with aapiNHV. “That’s why I’m excited about our work with aapiNHV to organize AAPI Heritage Month. During the month, we hope to build spaces where the AAPI community in New Haven can co-organize gatherings to honor our different histories in order to build towards our shared futures.”  

aapiNHV was founded in March 2020. 

Yash Roy covered City Hall and State Politics for the News. He also served as a Production & Design editor, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion chair for the News. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, he is a '25 in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs.
Giri Viswanathan was a Science and Technology Editor for the News. Previously, he served as a Photography Editor while covering the School of Public Health for the SciTech Desk. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Giri is a junior in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs with a certificate in Global Health Studies.