May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, and we have some ideas on ways to celebrate this month-long holiday at home.Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is a great time to immerse yourself in the rich culture that has been shared by Asian-American and Pacific Islander-American creatives.Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated mainly in the United States and focuses on citizens whose family and ancestors originally hail from the various countries on the continent of Asia as well as the surrounding Pacific Islands like Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. There are a LOT of great ways to celebrate these cultures throughout the month, and a lot of them are available online!
Five Ways to Celebrate Asian/Pacific Heritage Month from Home:
1. Become a Historian: One of the best ways to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is to learn and educate yourself on the history of these nations and their citizens! Through the library’s CultureGrams subscription (free with your library card) you can learn about the culture and the history of so many beautiful Asian counties, like Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and many more.
2. Learn a Language: Through our partnerships with Mango Languages, Transparent Languages Online and Rosetta Stone, you can enroll for free in online language learning classes and learn the languages of these Asian and Pacific Island nations!
- Transparent Languages Online offers 50+ languages to learn, and you can tailor your learning experience based on your native language. For instance, if I wanted to learn Japanese, I have the option to choose Japanese for native English speakers, native Latin American speakers, and native Turkish speakers, which is excellent!
- Rosetta Stone is available from home until June, and while it offers a smaller selection of languages, the service itself is world renowned. They have a few different lesson types – standard, which is great for basic, conversational learning, extended, which is a notch up, focusing more on fine tuning your language skills, and reading and writing, which focuses outside of your speaking skills and moves onto reading and writing skills as well.
- Mango Languages is great for on-the-go learning. You can download their app or use it through your home computer! It provides a great variety in languages to learn (including “Pirate”) and also has the option to learn various dialects (for instance, Mandarin and Cantonese dialects for Chinese learning). For younger language learners in the family, Mango Languages also offers Little PIM, which simplifies language learning for children ages 0-6!
3. Read a Book: There are so many amazing Asian and Pacific American authors out there, and you’ve no doubt heard of some of them. Recently Celeste Ng has made waves with her book “Little Fires Everywhere”, as it has recently been made into an HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon. Fun Fact: “Little Fires Everywhere” takes place in Celeste Ng’s home town of Shaker Heights, Ohio – our neighbors to the west! Jenny Han is another Asian-American author whose books have been transpired to film. Author of the popular “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” YA series, Han has made a big boom in the YA world when her series became a hit Netflix movie starring Noah Centineo as Peter and Lana Condor as Lara Jean. Mindy Kaling, hit TV writer of shows like “The Office” and “Never Have I Ever” penned two memoirs: “Why Not Me?” and “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)”. You can check out these authors and books by other Asian and Pacific American authors in this handy Overdrive list!
4. Try a New Recipe: Asian and Pacific American food is very diverse in flavor profile and ingredients. From Sushi in Japan to Tikka Masala in India to Bariva of Papua New Guinea, there are recipes EVERYWHERE and they are all delicious and ready for you to try. If we travel back to CultureGrams, which we discussed in our first point in the list, you can find traditional recipes from an endless list of countries. One of my favorite recipes is Gkai Kamin, a lemongrass chicken recipe from Thailand. Another website that I frequent, this time for Japanese cuisine, is Just One Cookbook, a food blog written by Namiko Hirasawa Chen, who learned to cook with her mother at a young age. When I’m looking for a great Indian recipe, I go straight to The Picky Eater, a health food blog written by Anjali Shah, a health coach and author from the San Francisco Bay area. She posts recipes of all kinds, but her Traditional Indian Samosas recipe is to die for!
5. Get Artsy: View an online art exhibit that features Asian or Pacific Island artworks. There are plenty to choose from right now! The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco has a collection boasting over 13,000 pieces available for viewing online. The Met, of New York City, has a fantastic collection of Asian art! Take a look at their newest acquisitions and exhibits without leaving your home! Though not a museum, the Ronin Gallery in New York also has an impressive collection focusing on Japanese art. For some excellent art pieces from the Pacific Island, check out the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum’s online collection, complete with a pinpoint map showing where each artwork was originated. Don’t forget to check out our resource – Artcyclopedia, where you can find different artists based on their nationality.
Now is the time to reach out and try new things, so why not start by trying a great recipe from the Pacific Islands, viewing art from Japan, or learning a new language!
Taylor S. is a Librarian at the Canfield, Tri-Lakes, and Sebring branches. She loves adult and YA novels, particularly multicultural novels, LGBTQIA+ novels, and memoirs/nonfiction. She is currently reading “How To Be A Victorian”, by Ruth Goodman.