Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month


May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

The rich history and heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is thousands of years old and is integral to shaping the history of the United States. Formerly known as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, the celebration was officially renamed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in 2009. The month-long observance recognizes the influence and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the achievements and culture of the United States.

The first documented arrival of Asians in America was in 1587, when Filipinos arrived in California. Additionally, evidence suggests that the first Japanese individual to arrive in North America was a young boy in October 1587. It’s believed he accompanied a Franciscan friar.

The first Chinese arrived in Hawaii in 1778. The first Koreans landed in the States in 1884. The first Samoans in the United States were documented in 1920 in Hawaii, and the first Vietnamese in 1912.

In the 1970s, a former congressional staffer, Jeanie Jew, proposed the idea of celebrating Asian Pacific Americans to Representative Frank Horton. In June 1977, a United States House of Representatives resolution was introduced by Horton and Norman Y. Mineta, proclaiming the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. A month later, a similar bill was introduced in the Senate.

President Jimmy Carter made the then-week-long celebration official when he signed a joint resolution on October 5, 1978. In 1990, Asian-Pacific Heritage Week was extended to a month when George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress, designating May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.



Cook a traditional recipe


Embark on a cultural, culinary journey in your kitchen! Begin with fresh ingredients and serve up some Asian or Hawaiian dishes.

Cooking Sinigang Paella with Chef Ken Cacho

Catch Chef Ken Cacho this May 27th at 8:00PM (PH) | May 27th at 7:00AM (CST) as he shows us how to make Prawn Sinigang Paella and discuss what makes the dish uniquely Filipino.

The Korean Vegan

Korean dishes, some traditional and some reimagined, from the home cook and storyteller behind @thekoreanvegan. The Korean Vegan Cookbook celebrates how deeply food and family shape our identity.  An excellent resource to find a family recipe to cook together.

Join the social media celebrations

You don’t have to be an Asian American or Pacific Islander to join the fun on social media. Maybe you have a friend or neighbor who is one. Tag them in posts relevant to the day.

PBS AAPI Docu-series Asian Americans

Asian Americans is a five-hour film series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided, while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate and personal lives, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played in shaping the nation’s story.

Travel back to your roots

Connect with relatives and trace your genealogy. Don’t forget to record your experiences in a memoir and make your family tree. It is something the next generation can treasure!


The Chinese arrived first

Chinese immigrants came in the mid-19th century to work on the railroads and gold mines.

Aloha is not a simple “Hello”

The Spirit of Aloha is a law that all Hawaiians, including tourists, must follow and respect by emoting good feelings for others.

New ‘home’ states

More than half of all Pacific Islanders live in two states — Hawaii and California.

The Largest Asian American Population

Hawaii has the largest Asian American population — nearly 800,000.

Religion matters

36% of Asian Americans say religion is very important in their lives.


It honors immigrants

Asian American immigrants and Pacific Islanders contribute greatly to the U.S. economy. This is a time to recognize how they have strengthened our communities.

We learn about diversity

Events and activities give us a glimpse of Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ rich cultures.

It emphasizes racial equality

Celebrations like these keep the healthy dialogue between different races alive.



One, Two, Three Dim Sum: A Mandarin-English Counting Book, by Rich Lo

Best for ages: 0-4 years
Kids who are just learning to count can count to 10 in both English and Mandarin. The objects to count are traditional in Chinese food: 1 menu, 2 chopsticks.

The Twins’ Blanket, Hyewon Yum

Best for ages: 3-6 years

Twins love, twins bond and twins squabble. Told from the perspective of a pair of 5-year-old twins, the two are out-growing their shared bed so how will they share their same favorite blanket? Parents of twins will understand the language of love.

No Kimchi For Me! by Aram Kim

Best for ages: 3-7 years
Yoomi is not a fan of kimchi, despite how often the grownups in her house try to disguise it (in pizza, on a cookie, in ice cream). When her grandmother teaches her to make kimchi pancakes, she learns more about her Korean heritage. Author and artist Aram Kim was born in Ohio and spent her childhood in South Korea.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners By Joanna Ho & Dung Ho

Best for ages: 4-8 years
Author Joanna Ho has been a teacher and a dean and is currently the vice principal of a school in California’s Bay area. Her book helps kids recognize the beauty in their own differences.

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines, by Jeanne Walker Harvey

Best for ages: 4-8 years
Kids will learn the background of Maya Lin whose artistry joined architecture to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Her parents, a poet and clay artist, fled China before Maya and her brother were born in the United States.



This collection of science fiction short stories by Nebula Award–winning author Ted Chiang features aliens, secret government serums that can increase intelligence, a tower so tall that it may pierce heaven if it grows higher, a procedure that prevents people from noticing the physical appearance of others, and other strange phenomena. One of the stories in the collection, “Story of Your Life,” was adapted into the 2016 critically acclaimed film Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. It’s one of the book’s most gut-wrenching stories.

Naturally Tan by Tan France

Queer Eye’s Tan France reveals in In this memoir his experience living as a gay Muslim Pakistani man in both Britain and America, his relationship with his husband (a Mormon cowboy), and his career, which includes stints as a fashion brand owner and as the star of a hit Netflix show. Told through a series of fun anecdotes interspersed with fashion advice, Naturally Tan is simultaneously funny, heartwarming, and enlightening.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

In this essay collection, poet and writer Cathy Park Hong explores what it’s like to grow up as the daughter of Korean immigrants, to be Asian in America, and how she faced discrimination in her personal, academic, and creative life. Each essay is insightful and emotional, wrapping up Hong’s identity as an Asian American woman, a poet, and a human. Minor Feelings won the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography.

In this fairytale-like graphic novel, Prince Sebastian is a young, attractive, and eligible Parisian bachelor—so, naturally, his parents spend much of their waking hours trying to find him the perfect bride. However, Sebastian, intent on keeping his secret life hidden from everyone, is not particularly interested in finding a bride. At night, he ventures out as Lady Crystallia, the most fashionable woman in Paris. His best friend and the secret designer of Lady Crystallia’s elegant dresses is Frances, a girl with a dream of becoming a world-renowned fashion designer. Can Sebastian keep his secret from the world, and how long will Frances be able to stand hiding her talent in the shadows?