UAA celebrates Asian American, Pacific Islander, Desi American Heritage Month in May

by Jennifer Booz, UAA Chief Diversity Officer  |   

UAA alumna Eva Ulukivaiola paid tribute to her culture by wearing a traditional Tongan Taʻovala at the 2022 commencement ceremony, where she celebrated receiving her Master of Science in global supply chain management as well as an occupational endorsement certificate in business leadership. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage) 

Dear UAA Community,

We are excited to celebrate Asian American, Pacific Islander, Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month during May. Since 1992, when AAPI Heritage Month was officially signed into law, communities have celebrated the rich histories and contributions Asian Americans and Americans from Pacific Island countries have made in Alaska, the United States and worldwide. 

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month in May commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese people arriving in the U.S. in May of 1843 and the transcontinental railroad’s completion in May 1869. The majority of the workforce laying the tracks for this monumental infrastructure project were Chinese immigrants. 

While the significance of celebrating AAPI Heritage Month marks the remembrance of these events, people from Asian and Pacific Island countries arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines much earlier in 1587 and were followed by East Asian Indians at Jamestown. At the end of the 1800s, people from Korea, Guam, Samoa and Vietnam arrived in the U.S. At the turn of the 19th century, people from China and Japan emigrated to the Hawaiian Islands.

UAA is proud to continue the tradition of recognizing AAPI Heritage Month and the diverse ethnicities, cultures, languages and histories AAPI represents in our state and country.

I hope you will take time this month to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month and participate in the university’s scheduled events to celebrate. To learn more about activities and events, visit the UAA Diversity Programs and Resources website.

Jennifer Booz
UAA Chief Diversity Officer

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