March 30, 2023

Purdue’s Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month


The Purdue Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center will be observing Asian Pacific American Heritage Month during the months of April and May.

The heritage month originated in 1992, although the effort started in 1977, when U.S. Rep. Frank Horton of New York introduced the bill calling for May to receive the designation. May was selected for two reasons: first, to commemorate the arrival of the first known Japanese immigrant to the U.S., on May 7, 1843; second, to honor the May 10, 1869, completion of the transcontinental railroad, which upward of 20,000 Chinese workers helped to construct. The month pays tribute to the generations of Asian Pacific American communities that have enriched United States history and are instrumental in its future success. 

To celebrate, the Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center will share stories of Asian American, Asian, and Pacific Islander Boilermakers to highlight their early and ongoing positive impact on our campus community and beyond. This year’s theme is “Asian/Pacific/Americans in Indiana and the Midwest,” highlighting local history, regional history and lived experiences. The celebration kick offs on April 3 with an opening reception at Hicks Undergraduate Library from 5:30-7 p.m. for the exhibition “Be Heard: Asian American Experiences in Indiana.” Collaborating organizations for this event include the Indiana Historical Society and Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies.

In addition, the AAARCC is celebrating a new publication by Monica Trieu, “Fighting Invisibility: Asian Americans in the Midwest,” with book discussions and a talk. Book discussions will take place on March 30 and April 5 in hybrid mode (in-person and virtually), with a scheduled talk during the AAARCC’s Lunch and Learn session on April 6.

The main highlight is on April 12, when the AAARCC hosts keynote speaker Rupal Thanawala at Loeb Playhouse from 6-7p.m. Thanawala will offer her insights on the Asian American experience in Indiana. The event is co-sponsored by Purdue Graduate Student Government, the Roger C. Stewart Leadership and Professional Development Department, and the Purdue Foundation Student Board and will feature performances by Purdue Taal, the Purdue Philharmonic Orchestra and the AAARCC Lion Dance Team. Attendees may RSVP to this event, which is free and open to the public, at

Other events are as follows:

  • “An Evening of Music,” honoring the rich traditions of Asian/Asian American music and composers (April 14). 
  • Outreach by visiting artist Bao Ho at Spring Fest (April 15).
  • Series on indigo and its history across different cultures, in partnership with the American Studies program, the Asian and Asian American Art Collective, and Purdue Student Farm. This series includes a virtual movie screening (April 17), speaker series and workshop with Rowland and Chinami Ricketts (April 20), and workshop with Dyah Miller (April 24).
  • Screening of the movie “38 at the Garden,” followed by a regional faculty panel, in partnership with The Asian American Foundation (April 18). 
  • Spring Luau to celebrate larger Pacific Islander communities, in collaboration with the Native American Educational and Cultural Center (April 21).
  • InspirAsian: AAARCC Graduation and Asian Student Union Board (ASUB) Multicultural Showcase. Closing out the month, this event will take place at the France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center (CoRec) Gyms 1-3 on April 28 at 6-8 p.m., with rides on the Boilermaker Special from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

“We are proud to celebrate and honor the impact that generations of Asian Pacific Americans have had on the United States and here at Purdue University,” said Pamela Siri, director of the AAARCC. “This year’s events will bring together the entire campus community to learn, share and celebrate our rich cultural heritage. This is an invitation to all campus units, department and programs, academic classes, as well as student communities to join us in observing the heritage month by attending and promoting the events and featuring stories of Asian Pacific Americans at Purdue University.” 

The AAARCC hopes that these heritage month observances will promote diversity and inclusivity on campus and encourage faculty, staff, students and community members from all backgrounds to join in the celebration. For more information on the events and how to attend, visit

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