Did you know, in the midst of all these coronavirus happenings, May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Or, Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, depending on who you ask.

Originally started in the late 70s as a heritage week, President George H. W. Bush extended the heritage celebration to span the full month of May in 1990. The month-long recognition is to specifically recognize the “contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.”

Before the coronavirus outbreak happened, our family would seek out museums or other events to incorporate into our schedule to honor observances like this. But, since we’re still mostly home-bound, I’ve been keeping an eye out for other ways to connect with Asian and Pacific Islander culture.

If you haven’t caught it yet, PBS and KBTC Public Television have been airing multiple opportunities to watch the 5-hour series “Asian Americans,” which examines the challenges faced by Asian Americans from the mid-1800s to now. KBTC even hosted a virtual discussion event about the series. It’s a fascinating look at how Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and other cultural and historical contributions are seen throughout history in America from a variety of perspectives — maybe some perspectives you hadn’t heard or considered before. Maybe some perspectives that had never been presented to you. I know I found myself challenged in some places, personally.

You can check for chances to watch “Asian Americans” via KBTC (KCKA in Centralia) or KCTS (Seattle PBS station) on your television guide, visit KBTC.org or KCTS.org, or download the PBS app on your device or smart TV.

Also available free to university students and public library cardholders, Kanopy has organized an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month film collection. Dozens of titles are highlighted and available for streaming via the Kanopy app, which can stream content to your device or smart TV (again, for free with your student email or library card).

If you also aren’t aware, many of us also get NHK WORLD-JAPAN channel over the digital television airwaves locally, thanks to KBTC Public Television. Check out NHK World Japan online for virtual tours of Japan.

Did you know Chehalis has a “sister city” in Japan? Now you do. Inasa, Shizuoka in Japan.

And, if you did know from previous coverage in The Chronicle, Lewis County lost several residents and families when Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII. “Eighty-six people from Lewis and Pacific counties were loaded onto a train in Chehalis to the internment camp in Tule Lake, California,” according to previous coverage by The Chronicle. Some of them returned after the war. Some of them never did. Julie McDonald and I both have penned columns about the Sato Family of Adna.

Nationally, the Asian Art Museum is even offering #MuseumFromHome, where they are posting numerous artifacts via social media and making tons of virtual experiences available online.

PBSLearningMedia.org also has some awesome resources for students and educators, including an “Around the Globe” collection series that includes China, Japan, and Cambodia, among other excellent collections of resources to know about for all those at-home learners out there right now.

If nothing else (and you are able), please consider supporting a local business that is committed to bringing cultural food experiences to our community: Elvie’s Bistro in Centralia (Asian, Filipino), Kobo Teriyaki in Chehalis, Zabdi Teriyaki in Centralia, Somsiri Thai in Chehalis, South Pacific Bistro in Chehalis. All of these businesses are local and offering takeout options.


Brittany Voie is a columnist for The Chronicle. She lives south of Chehalis with her husband and two young sons. She welcomes correspondence from the community at voiedevelopment@comcast.net.

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