• Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Lawrenceville Celebrates AAPI Month with Series of Events
Lawrentians kicked off a celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month with a visit from noted author Cathy Park Hong on May 4. Author of “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” and a member of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2021” list, Hong engaged in conversation with English teacher Sujin Seo about their families’ immigrant experiences.
Both Seo and Hong’s families immigrated to the United States in the early 1970s, and Hong shared an excerpt from her book describing her father’s pursuit of the “American dream,” his experience as a “model minority,” and the reality of his immigrant experience, which include injustice and discrimination.
“I was inspired by stand-up comedy,” Hong said, referencing comedian Richard Pryor as one of her role models. “A comedian like Pryor was able to be very honest about race in a way that shook me awake, so I took a lot of his ideas and ways of looking at race into my writing.”
Hong also talked about the idea of belonging, and how it factors into her writing.
“I think belonging is a question used a lot by immigrants,” she said. “When we are thinking about belonging, what kind of country do we want to belong to? What kind of politics do we want to belong to? What kind of country do we want where we think of ourselves excelling?”
“Toni Morrison said it best, ‘when you’re free, you free someone else,’” Hong shared, referencing another one of her inspirations. “For my parents and what they taught me - put your head down and work hard. If you’re going to help anyone, it’s your family. Will that bring us fulfillment or happiness? Or would real fulfillment be the kind of ethic of freedom where, as Morrison said, ‘if you’re free, you free someone else.’”
After her talk, Hong had lunch with members of Asian student affinity groups, attended classes with students, and held an evening reading in the Hutchins Galleries Rotunda.
Cathy Park Hong Hutchins talk.
In addition to Hong’s visit, the Office of Multicultural Affairs hosted several other events to commemorate AAPI month. On Wednesday May 3, Lawrentians were invited to Lunch & Dialogue in the McGraw Reading Room to watch and discuss the first episode of “Takeout with Lisa Ling.” The student organization Homeland Stories hosted an event May 10 celebrating AAPI poetry and literature, inviting community members to bring their favorite works to share at the event.
Last Thursday, Lawrentians were invited to celebrate Holi outside the Chapel. The event featured color, food including samosas and sweets, dancing, and a t-shirt sale to benefit Ratna Nidhi, a charity that tackles disability, hunger, and illiteracy issues in India. A Bollywood movie viewing followed.
Holi ceremony.
Holi water gun.
This week, Zaheer Ali, executive director of the Hutchins Institute for Social Justice, is hosting "Listening as a Creative Act: AAPI Heritage Month," a special music listening program exploring the work of Asian American and Pacific Islander artists on Tuesday, May 16. Students are also invited to practice Chinese calligraphy with the International Students Association later this week.
Also this week, Lawrenceville math teacher and football coach Long Ding got a special shout-out from his alma mater, Norwich University for being the first Chinese-born player to be signed by an NFL team – the Jacksonville Jaguars. As a senior, Ding was the ECFC Special Teams Player of the Year, and was a finalist for the Fred Mitchell Award given to the most outstanding college kicker from over 750 football teams. Ding currently serves as Big Red Football’s Special Teams Coordinator and Linebackers Coach.
Long Ding Norwich University IG post.
Find more images from Hong’s visit and Lawrenceville’s Holi celebration in our Flickr galleries.