Asian Heritage Month a chance to celebrate contributions and achievements

The rise in incidents of anti-Asian racism in the midst of the global pandemic has emphasized the importance of education to help build understanding and empathy. At Trinity College School, the Cultural Awareness Group (CAG) has led efforts to honour Asian Heritage Month, including social media posts, guest presenters and social media posts, highlighting Asian culture and global impact. CAG’s first social media post, to kick off the month, explained: “May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada, which is a time to reflect and celebrate the contributions and achievements that Canadians of Asian cultures contributed to the growth and prosperity of Canada. It has been celebrated across Canada since the 1990s, and has been officially recognized by the Canadian government since May 2002. Diversity represents one of Canada’s great strengths, and to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to reach their full potential and participate in Canada’s civic life, Asian Heritage Month offers the opportunity for Asian Canadians.”

This year, CAG’s International Day fell during the month of May, and a cultural attire contest and videos helped to showcase the many diverse cultures within our school community, including the Asian countries from which our students come, or with which they identify. (Read more about International Day.)

Later in the month, CAG welcomed guest speaker, alumnus Thanh Vu ’08, who spoke to the entire Senior School about her experiences as the first South Asian woman to complete the “Four Deserts” ultramarathon series. (Read more about Ms. Vu’s presentation.)

In a joint CAG and Caribbean Council meeting, alumnus and TCS residential assistant Maya Saunders ’16 gave a presentation on her home country of Turks & Caicos, as well as her Indo-Guyanese heritage on her mother’s side. She spoke about the geography and history of Turks & Caicos, including the Indigenous names, as well as music and festivals such as the Junkanoo (or street festival). And she talked about the history of Guyana, including when indentured workers were brought to the islands from India and China, and the influences of Indian and Chinese culture on current Guyanese life, such as in its cuisine.

Also in meetings, CAG members researched and collected information on Asian countries, highlighting many facets of their influence on a global level, from Buddhism to the dominance of K-Pop. The recent and upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo and Beijing were noted, as were the Chinese Space Station and the WeChat app. Students also wrote about their favourite topic – food! – such as the delicious tom yum goong soup of Thailand and the many varieties of pickles (jangajji) found in South Korean cuisine. Many of these different cultural aspects are being featured in social media posts to wrap up the month.

Thank you to CAG members and to our special guest presenters for reinforcing the importance of understanding and education as a means of building bridges across cultures within our school community and around the world throughout Asian Heritage Month and all year long.