The Brandeis Asian American Student Association kicked off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with their opening event this past Saturday, Feb. 12. APAHM is an annual show celebrating the diverse cultures and histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. BAASA began their month-long celebrations with a night of performances, showcased by student performers and their headliner, Taiwanese pop singer Jason Chen.
Judy Ye ’24, APAHM’s creative showcase coordinator, explained how APAHM is the biggest event that BAASA holds: “It consists of three events — Opening, Creative Showcase, and Closing. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is usually during the month of May, but May is Brandeis’ finals season, so BAASA holds events throughout the semester to celebrate APAHM.”
This year’s theme of APAHM is “Ride With the Waves,” said Ye. “It’s a metaphor for mental health. Waves come and go, and sometimes times can get rough; but with the right support, the wave will eventually pass, and you’ll sail to calmer waters.”
Maggie Chang ’23, APAHM’s Opening and Closing co-coordinator, further explained the importance of focusing on mental health, especially in relation to uplifting minority voices: “Mental health and its treatment have long been a stigmatized wedge splintering generational bonds in Asian families and preventing individuals from seeking help. Too often, Asians with mental illness are marginalized, isolated, and discriminated against because their conditions are misunderstood. [Like Judy said,] Mental health acts like waves. It ebbs and flows, and even crashes down on us without warning. When waves start to become rough, we feel like we might sink at any moment, but with the right support, we can learn to ride them out to calmer waters. Through our APAHM events, we aim to raise the voices of people in the Asian community with lived experiences.”
The thoughtful theme of this year’s APAHM, paired with the exciting performances resulted in an enjoyable experience. Both Ye and Chang agreed that watching Jason Chen and “Rice Paddies,” the e-board’s dance, was the best part of the night. Though both performances played important roles in the success of this unforgettable event, they would like to thank the rest of the BAASA e-board for all of their help and support in getting APAHM off to a strong start.
If you missed the first APAHM event, not to worry: APAHM is a month-long celebration, so you can expect to see the second event, “Closing,” on March 31, when a panel will talk about destigmatizing mental health in the AAPI community. Their last event, “SKIN Fashion Show,” will be held April 2, where they will showcase Asian Americans in the fashion world. Make sure to check these out!