Friday, May 7, 2021

Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges mark AAPI Heritage Month

May marks national Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are hosting a series of virtual events starting with a May 4 AAPI Read-in and continuing through May 25 with workshops and presentations.

All events are free and open to the public, with links to Cuyamaca’s workshops posted on its Culture & Community Circle Workshops page and Grossmont College’s on its Asian Pacific Islander page.

“This year’s slate of events, along with a host of earlier workshops focusing on AAPI issues, are especially timely after the Senate’s passage this month of a landmark anti-Asian hate crimes bill,” said Daniela Sow, coordinator of Grossmont College’s event.

The Atlanta shootings in March of six Asian women and the rise of anti-Asian violence over the past year provided the momentum for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, sponsored by New York Democratic Rep. Grace Meng and Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono.


Following the trauma of the past year, the Grossmont College’s Asian Pacific Islander Committee decided to change its focus in May to lighter fare to pay homage to the generations who have added to the nation’s rich tapestry and multicultural success. The events are coordinated by the API Committee and sponsored by the World Arts and Cultures Committee and Student Affairs.

  • Tuesday, May 4: AAPI Read-In(11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | register in advance) This opening event is intended to amplify the voices of AAPI individuals, with participants reading excerpts of an AAPI leader of any discipline – literature, politics, acting, music athletics, education, philanthropy and more.

  • Wednesday, May 12: Reading with Novelist E.L. Shen (2 – 3:15 p.m.) Shen, a writer and editor in Manhattan, wrote a middle-grade novel, “The Comeback,” a Junior Library Guild selection.

  • Tuesday, May 18: Career Networking with Asian Pacific Islander Professionals (5:30 – 7 p.m. | register in advance) Meet AAPI professionals from allied health, education, STEM, criminal justice, business and more.

  • Tuesday, May 25: Ukulele Workshop ( 3 - 4:15 p.m. | register in advance) Rodnalyn Sese, a Pinay musician born in Angeles City, Philippines, is a Grossmont College alumna currently attending San Diego State University, studying music education. Workshop participants will learn the history of the instrument, basic chords (owning a ukulele is optional) and can lean and play a song or two.

The events follow up several initiatives that the API committee has taken in recent months to express support and solidarity to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, including a series of informal “Boba Chats” in March to connect API students, faculty and staff at both colleges. Workshops on COVID-19’s impact on API individuals, as well as a panel discussion on combatting Anti-Asian American racism through art, activism and healing, also followed.

A resolution penned by committee members condemning anti-Asian racism and violence has been adapted by the campus’ Academic and Classified senates, the District Governing Board and the local American Federation of Teachers Guild.

Cuyamaca College’s events, sponsored by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Success and Equity, Student Affairs and Associated Student Government, include:

  • Tuesday, May 18: The Filipina/o/x American Diaspora (10-11 a.m.) Presented by Cuyamaca College instructor James Diokno, this workshop will present an overview of one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S. and in California. Special emphasis will be given on understanding why this community has been, the challenges faced, and contributions of the community to the U.S.
  •  Tuesday, May 18: Let’s Talk About It (4-5 p.m.) Presented by personal counselors Daniel Fernandez and Jason Astorga, this interactive workshop examines what it means to be “Asian-American”? Why the struggle to speak up? Asian-Americans have been perceived to be the “Model Minority,” but what are some of the struggles they face? Come to this interactive workshop where Asian American identities will be explored. 
  • Thursday, May 20: Open Mic (1-2 p.m.) Presented by Cuyamaca College instructor Karen Marrujo, this is an invitation to celebrate the power of individual voices. Share any of your work, thoughts, or interests by taking the mic or just drop in to listen or make new friends. 
  • Friday, May 21: Mental Health in the Filipino American Community (11 a,m.-noon) Presented by Dr. Rhoda Diokno, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, this workshop will focus on mental health issues in the Filipino American community and will include resources to help increase access to mental health treatment. 

  • Tuesday, May 25: Filipinxs/as/os and the Model Minority Myth (9:30-10:30 a.m.) Presented by Cuyamaca College instructor James Diokno, this workshop will examine the “model minority myth” stigma attached to the Asian American community. This interactive dialogue will focus on this idea as it relates to the Filipinx/a/o

In 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Track layers were predominantly Chinese immigrants.

For more information about Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges, go to www.gcccd.edu

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