A/PA celebrates heritage
Obies celebrated Asian/Pacific-American Heritage Month this year by organizing and participating in events geared towards education, said two of the event’s student coordinators, senior Rashne Limki and junior Daniel Domaguin.
“I hope that, through this month’s events, people will realize that the A/PA [Asian/Pacific American] community is not one monolithic group, but that it encompasses a vast number of experiences and realities,” said Limki.
The month’s events, sponsored by a spectrum of campus organizations and the Multicultural Resource Center, centered specifically on the theme “Perspectives: Borders and Movements.” Throughout April, groups like the Asian American Alliance and the My Name is My Own Series have worked together to bring in a variety of speakers, activists and artists to better educate Obies about a breadth of issues.
As April came to a close this week, four professionals of diverse interests and experiences were brought in as a part of the series. Dr. Pauline Park, for instance, spoke on Monday on the topic of “Race, Gender, and the Nexus of Identity Politics: The Perspective of a Transgendered Asian American Woman.”
On Tuesday, New York-based artist Chitra Ganesh held an open house for her artwork being displayed at the Edmonia Lewis Center in addition to holding an artists’ workshop. Limki, who coordinated Ganesh’s Oberlin visit, said, “Through this month’s events we have endeavored to re-examine the construction of borders/boundaries, and I think Chitra’s work fits this theme really well because her work is a confluence of cultural myths and contemporary social issues.”
“I’m interested in figures that are like modern myths. We never get the opportunity to learn about people like that in school,” said Ganesh, whose art involves a range of feminine subjects from ancient goddesses and mythological figures to Bollywood heroines to Kalpana Chawla, the Indian female astronaut who died in the Columbia explosion.
Wednesday marked a return to the academic as Dr. Yukikio Koshiro spoke about blackness and whiteness in the Japanese view of the world. Today, Professor Arif Dirlik will speak about “Imperialism and Education in Twentieth Century China in Contemporary Perspective.”
“Its all about education,” emphasized Domaguin. “Sometimes you hear uneducated comments on the street and you think that if they had gone to an event like the ones we’ve coordinated, they wouldn’t have said it.”
A/PA Heritage Month events will continue into the month of May, with two events on Sunday and Monday celebrating the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Nationally, A/PA Heritage Month is celebrated in May, though at Oberlin, students choose to celebrate in April to avoid conflicts with reading period and final exams.
Domaguin said he was pleased with the level of collaboration between on-campus groups during the month: “This year was special because the My Name is My Own Series and the Indigenous Women’s Series had events that tied in.”
Despite the differences among the groups involved in the A/PA Heritage Month celebrations, students seemed to have had at least one common message they hoped to convey.
“We’re trying to show how there’s not just one culture. We’re all very different and we’re forced together politically here in the U.S.,” said Domaguin.
Limki echoed the sentiment.
“I hope that the events have helped highlight the common struggles
across various identity-based communities and thereby help us build a larger and
stronger community of allies.”