May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The celebration is inclusive of backgrounds not only from the Asian continent, but also the Pacific islands of Melanesia. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month offers parents a great opportunity to teach kids about other cultures. We’ve listed some great ways families can celebrate Asian Pacific American Month.
Attend an Event
Fourth Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Held by the Suffolk County Asian American Advisory Board, the fourth annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month event is the premiere celebration taking place in Long Island this month. Activities are family-friendly and include a lion dance, music by the AAAB Youth Orchestra, health wellness workshops, multicultural performances by Asian artists, and more.
When: Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 1:00 pm-6:00 pm
How Much: FREE
Where: SUNY Stony Brook University, Charles B. Wang Center, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790
Contact Info: (631) 632-4400
Cook Chinese Food (or Any Asian Food) with Kids
When people think of Chinese food, most think of stir-fry dishes. Stir-fry recipes typically require a lot of cutting ingredients into small pieces, so these may not be best suited for young kids to try. An easy alternative is to buy frozen shu mai and Chinese dumplings at the grocery store. These frozen delicious morsels of meat and/or vegetables stuffed within dough simply require boiling – kids can help by placing them in a pot and filling with water while parents turn on the stove. For those who don’t live near an Asian food store, many regular grocery stores like Trader Joes carry these items in their international sections.
Origami is the traditional art of Japanese paper folding that began in the 17th century. Origami does not require tape or glue. Kids can make everything from a bear to a boat. Check out an Origami instruction book from the local library or visit a site like Origami-Instructions.com which offers step-by-step instructions for kids (for grades 3 and up).
Eat at an Asian Restaurant
Bring the family out to an Asian restaurant, but don’t just eat there. Use this as an opportunity to teach kids by learning about the people behind the business. Talk to the wait staff and/or owners. If the people working there are from another country, hear about their experiences — find out where they’re from, if they have kids themselves, what brought them to America, and more.
Read a book
Visit a local bookstore or library to pick up children’s books by an Asian Pacific American author. The Magic Brush by Long Island author, Kat Yeh, incorporates Chinese language and characters into her story. Greetings from Kiwi and Pear by New Jersey author, Joyce Wan, features the adventures of two monkeys who travel around the world.
Watch a Show or Documentary
For preschoolers, simply watching an animated series like Nick Jr.’s Ni Hao Kai Lan can teach kids about Chinese culture. For older kids and adults, the Asia Society in New York City is showcasing the documentary Wo Ai Ni Mommy about a Chinese girl’s journey from a Chinese orphanage to a Jewish American family in Long Island. The event includes a post-screening Q&A with the filmmaker and the featured family.
Wo Ai Ni Mommy
When: Friday, May 14, 2:45 pm-4:45 pm
How Much: $7 members/students/seniors; $9 students/seniors; $11 nonmembers
Where: Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, New York, NY
Chinatowns, where traditions are still maintained, offers a snapshot of life in China. Bring the family to a local Chinatown to taste, see, and smell the culture first hand. Take pictures of unique Chinese signs, statutes, and landmarks. Eat dim sum at a restaurant or visit a local supermarket to try foods not found in American grocery stores. From Long Island, the closest Chinatowns are in New York City or Flushing, Queens.
By Maria Adcock