Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month in SFUSD
Published in Sing Tao Daily
By Dr. Matt Wayne
你好! Kamusta! Xin chào! Talofa!
These are ways to say hello in Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese and Samoan — some of the primary languages spoken by Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students and families in the San Francisco Unified School District.
This month in May, we recognize AAPI Heritage Month to honor and uplift the many important contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are essential to San Francisco’s history, present and future. San Francisco public schools strive to be places where every student can see themselves and be themselves, where the diversity of our students is celebrated each day. Our communities are made better by embracing and celebrating the differences that define us.
In SFUSD, we honor our AAPI communities each day. Many of our schools offer Asian language programs and clubs for AAPI communities. In fall 2021, Leola M. Havard Early Education School opened the first dual-language Samoan immersion program in the mainland U.S. SFUSD also has employee affinity groups such as the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) Racial Affinity Administrators Group and Kabayan for Filipino/Filipino-American staff.
Additionally, the SFUSD Fa’aSāmoa Initiative (FASI) helps address the academic disparities amongst Samoan/Pacific Islander students. FASI stems from a 2018 HAPI Resolution passed by the SFUSD Board of Education and amended in September 2020 In Support of Equitable Services and Staff for Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Students.
SFUSD has long been a leader in teaching Ethnic Studies in high schools. Ethnic Studies classes have screened Chinatown Rising, which discusses Asian American youth activism and SF history from the 1970s to the present day. Classes have used this as a text to encourage students to think about contemporary change-making movements. Numerous Ethnic Studies student podcasts have centered around Asian American identity, model minority myths, and countering Asian American hate in society.
Now in its third year, the Filipinx Student Wellness Internship creates an empowering mental health educational space for SFUSD Filipinx students to develop skill sets to have agency over their mental wellbeing. They wrapped up their second Filipinx Wellness Conference at San Francisco State University, where interns presented mini-workshops related to mental health wellbeing.
During Lunar New Year, SFUSD schools often hold celebrations on their campuses and participate in the annual Lunar New Year Parade in San Francisco. In February, students at Alice Fong Yu Alternative School held a Lunar New Year festival to promote diversity and inclusion in their school community and to ring in the new year. At James Garfield Elementary School, students dressed up as mah jong tiles and rabbits for the Year of the Rabbit and performed in the Lunar New Year Parade.
In San Francisco, this year’s celebration theme for AAPI Heritage Month is Strengthening the Fabric of Our Community. Explore Asian American & Pacific Islander films, foods, and culture through a wide range of activities, events, and programs in the month of May. The APA Heritage Foundation works with its Official Celebration Partners the Asian Art Museum, the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and the San Francisco Public Library to compile an online Celebration Guide with a list of events taking place in May.
For more resources, check out SFUSD’s AAPI Heritage Month Resource Guide.
This page was last updated on May 23, 2023