Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

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By Jennifer Agress

The History of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

All over the United States, May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time when we pay tribute to the contributions of generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and continue to shape its future. Signed into legislation as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week under President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978, the commemoration was upgraded to a month-long observance in 1992 to occur yearly in the month of May.

May was chosen to commemorate Asian Pacific heritage because of two important dates. May 7, 1843 marked the first wave of Japanese immigration to the United States and the transcontinental railroad, was completed on May 10, 1869. Like the rest of the country, here in Miami we use Asian Pacific American Heritage Month to honor the impact these cultures have made on America’s progress in the arts, sciences, government, military, commerce, education, and more.

Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in Miami

During the month of May, visitors coming to Miami will find many events that celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage. At Miami Dade College – North Campus, the Gallery North will host an exhibit called “The Dolls of Japan: Shapes of Prayer, Embodiments of Love.” Dolls have been an important part of Japanese culture since ancient times. Today, they come in a variety of designs, shapes and sizes, and are used to showcase Japanese handicrafts and depict the culture’s customs and regional attributes. On loan from The Japan Foundation, this exhibit gives Miami's community a peek at 75 dolls made in Japan: including Hina ningyo (Girls’ Festival dolls), Gogatsu ningyo (Boys’ Day dolls), dolls connected to traditional performing arts, regional dolls, and creative dolls handmade by modern craftspeople. This exhibit is free and open to the public and will be on display from April 25th to June 1st.

For a taste of Asian food and drink, locals and visitors ages 21+ can head to the weekly Asian Night Bazaar at The Setai, Miami Beach. Taking place every Friday night, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., the hotel’s revered Courtyard is transformed into an Asian-themed bazaar and marketplace, making visitors feel like they’ve been instantly transported to the Far East. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Jaya, has multiple action food stations with bao buns, dumplings, skewers, and more. To keep visitors entertained, there will be a live DJ, fire dancers and contortionists. Tickets are priced at $55 per person in advance and $65 per person at the door. Each ticket includes unlimited access to the food stations, a special welcome drink, and a complimentary cocktail of the guest’s choosing.

Kid-Friendly Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Events

Perfect for curious young minds, the Miami Children’s Museum will pay tribute to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with some family-friendly programming throughout the Month of May. On Saturday, May 5th, from noon to 4 p.m., kids are invited to attend Komodo No Hi!, or “Children’s Day.” Here, they’ll learn how to make simple origami or write their names in calligraphy with the help of representatives from the Consulate General of Japan and the Florida International University (FIU) Japanese Club. In addition to that, they’ll be able to make handcrafted lanterns, sumi-e paintings or festive carp banners in the “Makers Space,” practice flower arranging in an ikebana-inspired art workshop, or join the theater troupe for “Kamishibai” Storytelling. Then, on Saturday, May 26th, the museum will host two performances by Fushu Daiko—a local musical group that does Taiko, or traditional Japanese drumming—at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Like all heritage months, we use this time of the year to celebrate Miami’s incredible diversity. Participate in one of the special events listed above, and experience a side of South Florida you might not have seen before.

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