Celebrate AAPI Month with Virtual Field Trips

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Each May, Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is observed to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, and accomplishments of immigrants from Asia and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Back in 1992, when AAPI Heritage Month was first established, May was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the Golden Spike Ceremony, which marked the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 as a result of the invaluable contributions of Chinese laborers, as well as the month when the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United Sates in 1843. 

According to a 2022 STAATUS (Social Tracking of Asian Americans in the U.S.) Index report, Asian-Americans are least likely among all racial groups to feel they belong and are accepted, even if born in the U.S. These feelings have increased as a result of misinformation surrounding COVID-19. In recent years, there have been increased acts of racism and distrust toward Asian Americans, particularly Chinese immigrants.

Today, AAPI History Month provides not only an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the incredible contributions of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, but to also reflect on the struggles, and discrimination these groups have experienced throughout US history. Discover AAPI Heritage Month activities for you and your student to participate in to further your learning about Asian American and Pacific Islander culture and history through virtual field trips.

Opportunities to Honor AAPI’s Heritage Month

There are many ways to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month from the comfort of home, including multimedia virtual exhibits, libraries of art from Asian-American artists, podcasts, and more.

Take a Virtual Trip Along the Transcontinental Railroad

While the transcontinental railroad was completed mostly by Chinese immigrant laborers, their contributions to this significant feature of United States history was long overlooked. To honor the contributions of Chinese workers, Stanford has created a virtual tour of historic sites.

Scroll down the page to travel from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, learning about the construction process and key events along the way, including the June 25 1867, worker strike, daily lives of workers, dangers of the job, and more.

The interactive map, paired with an elevation graph, historical photographs, and numerous quotes from workers, is a great resource for students looking to learn more about the contributions of Chinese Americans in the United States.

Browse Radio and Television Programs from The American Archive of Public Broadcasting

The American Archive AAPI Collection highlights over 230 public radio and television programs highlighting AAPI culture. The collection includes interviews and readings covering representation, culture, reactions to international affairs, and more.

Also from the American Archive of Public Broadcasting is The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Collection, which includes over 100 videos on the Asian American experience in the United States throughout history.  

Learn About Prominent Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

The We Are Here Learning Lab from the Smithsonian is based on a book of the same name, which discusses 30 prominent Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including Naomi Osaka, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and more. Students interested in pop culture will enjoy exploring the profiles, which feature videos, images, news articles, and more. 

This Learning Lab from the Smithsonian is a fantastic resource for learning about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have had significant impacts on U.S. history.

Students can also learn about March Fong Eu, the first woman and Asian-American to serve as acting Governor of California. Scroll through this virtual exhibit from the California State Archives to learn about her life growing up in California and her career in public service, during which she was the first Asian-American woman to serve in many positions.

Discover Firsthand Accounts About Life in Internment Camps

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, over 100,000 innocent Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps for the length of World War II. Order 9066 is an eight-episode podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

Each episode explores firsthand accounts from the camps, narrated by Sab Shimono and Pat Suzuki, who were incarcerated as children with their families at the Amache camp in Colorado. The series spans a three-year period, from the initial forced removal of Japanese Americans from their homes after the Pearl Harbor bombing, through the end of 1944 when the incarceration order was lifted.

Behind Barbed Wire is a multi-media virtual exhibit which features images, interactive maps, newspaper clippings, and more to explore the Japanese-American internment camps. Students can scroll through to learn about evacuation densities across the country and firsthand experiences from internment camps. Learners will discover how in-camp sports, schools, and churches worked, providing an in-depth look at what it was like to be an internee.

Browse Works by Asian-American Artists

When students scroll through this Pinterest board from the National Gallery of Art, they can explore multimedia artworks created by Asian-American artists. Pins include paintings, photographs, sculptures, garments, and more. This is a great opportunity for students to discover a broad variety of pieces from Asian-American artists.

Take a Virtual Tour of Historic Sites

The National Park Service has compiled a library of parks, memorials, and other historically significant sites that are relevant to Asian-American and Pacific Islander history in the United States. Students can explore dozens of places, from the Stedman-Thomas Historic District in Alaska to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. 

By clicking on each notable place, students can read a detailed description of the location and its historical significance and view images. This is a great opportunity to discover if there are any notable historic sites near you that are close enough to visit.

Honor AAPI History In & Out of the Classroom

Participating in virtual AAPI Heritage Month activities is a great way for students to expand their learning beyond the classroom. As a Learning Coach, you can share opportunities to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month that align with your student’s interests.

There are several ways to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in person too. Take a trip to your local library, patronize a local Asian-American owned business, or visit a nearby historical site. Most importantly, remember that May isn’t the only time to honor AAPI Heritage. You can learn about  Asian-American and Pacific Islanders year-round.

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