The AACP Newsletter
Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages
Since 1970 May 2006
Editor's Notes
Event Schedule
Featured Books
Featured Articles/Editorials
Winning Entries From
Growing Up Asian in America 2006

Why May and is it Still Needed?
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month's Origins

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K-5 Bay Area Award Winner

Manasa Venkatesan
Age 7, Grade 2

K-5 Regional Winner

Yennie Shyu
Age 9, Grade 4

K-5 Regional Winner

Jayshree Sarathy
Age 9, Grade 4
Winning Entries From
Growing Up Asian in America 2006
A Program of the Asian Pacific Fund

This newsletter marks our second year of cooperation with the Asian Pacific Fund in featuring some essays and art from their contest "Growing Up Asian in America." To learn more, please read our May 2004 newsletter article about the Asian Pacific Fund and their contest.

"Growing Up Asian in America" is a writing and art contest for students from around the San Francisco Bay Area. The spring announcement of winners and exhibiting of the winning entries are time to work in conjunction with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Each year the Asian Pacific Fund chooses a different theme for the contest. This year's theme is entitled "On My Street & In My Neighborhood."

Because of the space limitation on the size for our newsletters, we are only incorporating the top three essays and art from the K-5 grade range. At the time of the writing of this article, the Asian Pacific Fund had not yet posted the 2006 contest winners on their website. Please check their website frequently to see all of the winning entries and to get more information about "Growing Up Asian in America" and about the Asian Pacific Fund.

2006 K-5 Growing Up Asian in America Winners and Winning Entries
Provided courtesy of the Asian Pacific Fund and their Sponsors
K-5 Honorable Mention
My Language
By Sabrina Wu
Age 8, Grade 3

Do you think it is natural to speak your language to your friends? I do. But one day my idea changed when I spoke Cantonese to my friends while playing 4-square in a park near my house. I didn't want to be out of the game, so I thought the best way to stay in the game was not getting the ball. I kept on saying "[words in Cantonese]", that means not to give me the ball. My African American friend, David shouted furiously, "Stop talking Chinese!" I was shocked and embarrassed. Everybody just stop playing and didn't know what to do. Then, we went home.

After lunch, I thought it over. I asked myself why should I be embarrassed? I was just using my native language to communicate with my Chinese friends. However, David didn't understand and he thought it was an insult to him.

I decided to talk to my Chinese friends how to let David know that we didn't try to be unfriendly. We told David that "[words in Cantonese]" meant not to give me the ball. He finally understood that we didn't say anything bad about him in Cantonese. We also taught him how to say it in Cantonese. The next day, I was so surprised and happy that David cheerfully said "[words in Cantonese]" while playing 4-square with us. It was fun.

David's instance made me understand the importance of communication. If you do not know what other people are talking about, ask them to explain it to you. You don't have to be shy. I also realized that your native language is your root. You should never be ashamed of speaking your own language.

Dr. King had a dream. I have a dream as well. My dream is that people would not be over sensitive when they hear other people speak their mother language. I also hope that everybody will have a heart to learn another language like David.

K-5 Regional Winner
Melting Locals
By Moniyka Sachar
Age 10, Grade 5

"Come on, let's go to Bharat Bazar!" exclaims my mother. My neighborhood is very Asian, especially because of the traditional stores such as Bharat Bazar. Almost every single Sunday is spent at Bharat Bazar, where half the time is spent talking rather than shopping. "How was your trip to India?" folks ask. Shopping is another way to socialize and chat with friends. Moreover at Bharat Bazar, the aroma of the scrumptious foods is indeed very Asian. Another Asian craze is the Farmer's Market. Tune up with music while you gossip with friends and purchase foods such as, strawberries, radishes, cilantro, and oranges. My family and I will go to Asian restaurants, too. Take a Chinese restaurant, The Hong Kong Buffet. You can spend hours and hours pampering yourself with Asian delicacies, such as spring rolls, tofu, dumplings, noodles, and much more. When I go to these Asian places, I feel enriched with the Asian culture.

My long awaited companion, Bhavia, from India had arrived last year. She was stunned at how much we practiced the Indian religion. Bhavia had arrived during the period of Diwali, or the festival of lights, a holiday that Indians celebrate. She was once again surprised how much preparations we make for Diwali. We light candles, decorate our houses, buy new clothes, and eat ravishing sweets. Bhavia and I painted beautiful designs on the floors of my house, taped colorful ribbons on my walls, but most importantly, had an extraordinary time. "I never thought that Indians in America watch Indian movies!"Bhavia rejoiced in shock. Bhavia and I watched an Indian movie at my house. Indian movies are dialogued in the Indian language, Hindi. After the hilarious movie, we ate a typical Indian meal, that consisted of: samosas (spicy potato cutlets), papads (oily Indian styled chips), khadi (a yellow curry), and for dessert, halwa (a sweet carrot cake or mush). Mmmmm…Unfortunately, the time came in a jiffy for Bhavia to leave. The last conversation she had with me was " I am delighted to know that even though you are growing up in America, you practice the same religion and eat the same foods and practice your native language at home."

When you grow up Asian in America, you have the rights of an

American. You can be independent, have freedom, and the opportunity that all the people in Asia don't have. In lots of Asian cultures people are forced into being one way or another, rather than being what they want to be! In America you can exercise your freedom and yet count on your strong study habits and determined work ethics of an immigrant. Asian American's have made a mark with these traits in America and we can aspire from their success. Growing up Asian you are blessed with both American opportunity and Asian heritage.

K-5 Bay Area Winner
It Is To Be Asian- All Alone
By Jolene M. Won
Age 10, Grade 5

My family is the only completely Asian family in the neighborhood. There is a girl named Jessica, who is my age, and her family, who live about two blocks down from our house, but Jessica is half Caucasian. She can speak fluent Thai, but that does not make her completely Thai. My family would like for more Asian families to move in, so we would not be alone in being Asian, as we are now.

I am proud to be Asian, as I should, but it is hard to sell armbands printed with the words Asian Pride, or put up Chinese New Year flyers around the school when there is no one to buy the bands; no Asians to help put up the flyers, or to even read them and actually care. There are no other Asians to stand tall and proud with (well, sorry to say, most of us Asians aren't actually very tall) and that is a very, very difficult prospect to have to live with.

Some people think there is not a thought about racism in the younger generation such as my friends, schoolmates, and I, but those people are very foolish, very confused, or simply wrong. Kids at my school expect me to speak fluent Chinese, and for me to speak it in front of them. Why should I be obligated to, especially when I know that they will mock it until the end of time? (I, unfortunately, know this from experience)They do not speak Swahili, or Irish, or whatever the language of their culture happens to be. Not all the kids do this, thank goodness, but the kids who are racist are intolerably so. It is very common for a kid in my grade to come up to me and say, "Hey, I can speak Chinese," and let out a stream of solid gibberish. I have learned to say, "Yeah. Right. Whatever," and walk away, but it is infuriating, and painful to hear.

I do not have any different ideas about my neighborhood just because I am Chinese. Maybe my neighbors do -mind you, they are either African-American or Caucasian- but they have shown no sign of it.

It is possible that some unusual occurrences around our house have been linked to racism. My mom has gone outside to get the newspaper, only to find that it is gone, or that someone has stolen the newspaper and used the bag to scoop their dog's poop, and have left the bag on the lawn. Dog-walkers never seem to pick up their dogs' poop from our lawn, as they do everyone else's. This could just be my imagination, though.

People have also broken eggs on the sidewalk, thrown trash on our lawn, and stolen or cracked the decorative stepping-stones in front of the house.

I have no way to prove that these are hate crimes, and I actually do not think they are. I really hope there will be no more discrimination than there already is around the neighborhood, possibly none at all . . . but it is not like that, not yet.

It has been a long time since this "racism" issue started up, just because some silly man or woman thought that if you were different, it made you awful, impure, or unclean in some way. Then people acted out of ignorance. Now it has created a mass of crevasses like dried desert soil, separating us all from what we could do, could be. Now man acts out of spite and envy and still ignorance, and a born-in comfort with people like us, with yellow, white or black skin; brown or blue, big or small eyes; black or blond, wavy or straight hair. That comfort, in some, makes other people, people who simply aren't like them, seem, "bad."

It has been so long since racism was born, that it would be all but impossible to destroy or wipe it out. We can still fight, though. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and many of the other fighters who might help are gone. But, this very moment, the next great Asian leader might be being born, or playing with Legos, or studying for a math test. Our equality is in the small hands of the younger generations.

Editor's Message

Hello Everyone,

Looks like I got out the May newsletter with only a week to spare. Sorry for sending this so late. We're a little short staffed at the AACP newsletter department. Ah, but this give me an opportunity to ask for your help.

Yes, you out there. Are you a student, teacher, retired person, or anyone else that may not have filled your summer schedule yet? Do you know of anyone that has some time this summer and would like them to do something that's rewarding? If the answer is yes, then please consider volunteering or interning with AACP. We have lots of things for you to do. We'd love to have your help. Just contact me to let me know you're interested.

Continuing, I sincerely thank Gail Kong and Benita Tsao at the Asian Pacific Fund for all your help. I hope this newsletter meets with your approval.

Thank you to the librarians at the Stanford government documents library for your help. To my UCB friends, I haven't flipped sides :). Stanford was just a lot closer than Berkeley. I wish it weren't so :).

Also, thank you National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS), Kathy Reyes, and Florence Hongo for your research help.

To all the people that worked and performed at our just finished Asian Pacific American Heritage Celebration in San Mateo, many many thanks to all of you. For all of you that could not make it, you missed a great celebration. Please try to make next years, okay.

That's all for now. If I spend any longer writing this, it's going to be June.


Leonard Chan
Executive Editor

Up Coming Events

Here are some events that AACP will soon be attending.
Invite us to your events.
June 21-24 JACL National Convention Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa
Chandler, AZ
July 8-9 San Jose Obon Festival San Jose Buddhist Temple
San Jose, CA
July 9 Monterey Obon Festival Monterey Peninsula
Buddhist Temple
Seaside, CA
July 22-23
Sa 1-10pm
Su 11-8pm
Ginza Bazaar & Obon Odori Buddhist Church of SF
San Francisco, CA
Other Event of Interest that AACP May Not Attend
June 3-4 Foster City Art and Wine Festival Foster City, CA
June 10-
Aug. 25
Enemy Alien Files, Hidden Stories of World War II Exhibit
Special opening weekend event on June 10 & 11
Nat. Historic Site

Manzanar, CA
June 17
Japanese Cultural Fair Mission Plaza Park
Santa Cruz, CA
June 24
June 25
San Mateo Buddhist Temple Annual Bazaar
2 S. Claremont St.
San Mateo, CA
July 1-3 Tule Lake Pilgrimages Tulelake, CA

Give Us Your Feedback

Please feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -

Why May and is it Still Needed?
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month's Origins

An Editorial by Leonard D. Chan

This is part three of our annual editorial on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). Please read our June 2004 and May 2005 newsletters to see the full text of what we've previously discussed. In brief, we have used these opportunities to point out some of the failing of the event and ways to improve it. Last year I even suggested that we move the month to February and move African American History Month to January. Some of you even sent me feedback in agreement that May is a difficult month to have such an event for students.

This year I decided to do some research of the actual congressional records on the origins of Asian Pacific American Heritage Week/Month. My goal was to find out if there was any hearings, debates, and or deep thoughts given to the selection of May for APAHM and give you a report on what congress was thinking when they were creating APAHM.

After a thorough searches on the Library of Congress' online database of congressional documents and two trips to the Stanford government documents library I was unable to find any real discussion and or debate given to the selection of May for APAHM.

Discoveries from Government Records
There were no debates or hearings for the 1978 bill (House Joint Resolution 1007) that established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week (Public Law 95-419) or the 1992 bill (H.R. 5572) which permanently made May APAHM (Public Law 102-405).
The House of Representatives Committee (Committee on Post Office and Civil Service of the 95th congress) in charge of investigating and creating the text for the 1978 bill created a brief two page report (95-1335).
In the report it mentions that the H.J. Res. 1007
"would bring to the attention of the American people the contributions that Asian/Pacific Americans have made to this Nation.
    "House Joint Resolution 1007 highlights 2 days of historical importance, May 7 and 10. May 7, 1843, marked the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant in the United States. On May 10, 1869, the Union Pacific Railroad was completed. The construction of this railroad involved the efforts of thousands of Chinese laborers."
Note that this report or the subsequent congressional floor discussion (also about two pages long) never does mention who the Japanese immigrant was and that by 1992 the House Committee Report (102-957) and following congressional floor discussion changes the language from immigrant to immigrants. (Was this done to give more significance to the date?)
No opposition or debates to the details were ever voiced in House committee or congressional floor discussion in 1978 or 1992. Senate records were even more miniscule with the 1992 bill being passed by voice vote alone.
The first week of May was mainly chosen as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week on the recommendation of Jeanie F. Jew and her organization the National Coalition for an Asian/Pacific American Heritage Proclamation.
Ms. Jew's choice of the first week of May appears to be related to her own family's history rather than by any consideration for the other Asian and Pacific Islander groups. As one of the chief sponsors (Rep. Frank Horton of NY) of the all the Asian/Pacific American Heritage bills said in 1992, "The celebration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month has a very deep and personal meaning for Jeanie Jew and her family." Horton goes on to tell the story of Jeanie Jew's grandfather, of Jew's grandfather's work on the Transcontinental Railroad, and his subsequent murder during racial unrest in Oregon. One could infer from Horton's speech that Jeanie Jew, in some measure, wanted to honor her grandfather's (and people like him) role in building this country.

Other Discoveries
The lone Japanese immigrant that is associated with May 7, 1843 was named Nakahama Manjiro (a.k.a. John Mung). His story fills books. The point to note about Manjiro is that he was really not the first permanent Japanese resident in the United States. After spending almost eight years in the United States (including his time at sea after May 7, 1843), he returned to Japan. If you count Hawaii as part of the United States (even though at that time it was an independent country) his fellow traveler from Japan by the name of Toraemon was the first Japanese to permanently stay in what is now the United States. Their first arrival date in Hawaii was not noted in the book I used for my research (Nisei: the Quiet Americans by Bill Hosokawa).
The Transcontinental Railroad was not technically completed on May 10, 1869. The Golden Spike ceremony happened in May, but coast to coast railroad travel, without having to get off the train was not accomplished until August 15, 1870.
May also commemorates the largest layoff of Chinese American workers. After the Golden Spike ceremony, most of the thousands of Chinese workers were laid off. We honor their Herculean achievement of building the Transcontinental Railroad now with APAHM, but the sad truth is that May was not that good of a month for the workers. As Jeanie Jew's grandfather's experience shows, the end of the Transcontinental Railroad construction meant that Chinese laborers had to find new jobs during the 1870s economic depression in communities that were openly hostile to Chinese.
Also, one of the more negative Asian/Pacific American historical dates occurred on May 6, 1882 when the Chinese Exclusion Act was approved.

In conclusion, congress' choice of May for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month was not well thought out and relied on Jeanie Jew and her advocacy group's judgment to make its decision for May. In actuality with only 365 days in a year and each month being approximately 8% of a year, there's a good chance that in any given month you'll find both good and bad historical Asian Pacific American dates within it.

Do we need Ethnic History/Heritage Months?
Actor Morgan Freeman in a 60 Minutes television interview was quoted as saying "You're going to relegate my history to a month? I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history."

But this statement is a little like the debate over affirmative action - when are things finally at an equal and or fairly represented state at which time you can finally have no need for such things as an Ethnic History/Heritage Month? Are we there yet? Will we still need such months when we get there?

Besides for the self-esteem reasons of giving young people role models that look more like themselves, heritage months serve a societal purpose in letting all Americans know that each ethnic group has served a valuable role in shaping this nation. Knowing this simple truth helps ease the tension between the ethnic groups. No one group can claim complete superiority in its significance to America. All of the diverse groups have been important to this country and all us will continue to play a vital role.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is needed. As long as we are able to identify ourselves as being of different groups, there will always be a need to celebrate and make known our diversity, differences, and heritage. Having a dedicate month in which to do this is certainly preferable to little or none.

If a key purpose of such heritage months is to be educational and enlightening, then we should make sure that such commemorations occur in months most advantageous to students. Let's continue to reconsider the choice of May for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Can we do better?

Links to Information on APAHM Origins
Asian Week's - The History of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
The Library of Congress Thomas Database
H.J. Res. 1007
H.R. 5572
HR floor discussion on H.R. 5572
Background on Jeanie Jew and Ruby Moy
Rep. Frank Jefferson Horton

APAHM General Interest
What's on TV for APAHM

Links to Information on the Transcontinental Railroad
Transcontinental Cover Up?
Contributions of Chinese
Nameless Builders of the Transcontinental Railroad by William F. Chew

Links to Information on Nakahama Manjiro on Manjiro
Bibliography on Nakahama Manjiro


The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end June 12, 2006.

Part Asian, 100% Hapa

Portraits by Kip Fulbeck
Foreword by Sean Lennon
Afterword by Paul Spickard
2006, 262 pages, Paperback.

"What are you?" This is the question answered by over one hundred Hapas (people of mixed racial heritage with some Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry) for this photo/essay book project. The politically incorrect question is turned on its head by allowing Hapas to celebrate their identities.

This is a fascinating book that is enlightening, and can be both serious and humorous at the same time.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3400, Price $19.95

Tiger of the Snows
Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest

By Robert Burleigh
Illustrated by Ed Young
2006, 29 pages, Hardback.

Almost 53 year to the day (May 29, 1953), this timely picture book celebrates the climbing of Mt Everest by Tenzing Norgay. While Edmund Hillary is the person most often given credit for being the first one to climb to the top of Mt. Everest, native Sherpa and Asian, Tenzing Norgay was right there with him. Author Robert Burleigh's repetitive and poetic lyrical style and illustrator Ed Young's beautiful art do a wonderful job of extolling Norgay's great achievement.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3401, Price $16.95

Chinese America
The Untold Story of America's Oldest New Community

By Peter Kwong and Dusanka Miscevic
2005, 518 pages, Hardback.

A befitting item for Asian Pacific American Heritage month, Chinese America is one of the latest books to examine the complete Chinese American history and experience.

Noted professor and author, Ronald Takaki says, "In this sweeping study, the Chinese are neither the 'model minority' nor the victims of racism. Instead they are multi-dimensional actors in the past and the present, with names and also minds, wills, and voices."

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3402, Price $29.95

Filipino Americans
Pioneers to the Present

By Concordia R. Borja-Mamaril and Tyrone Lim
2000, 332 pages, Paperback.

Created by the Filipino American National Historical Society's Oregon Chapter, this is a remarkable compilation of geography, Filipino and Filipino American history, and personal histories. Just the section on the early history of Filipinos (the first Asian Americans) in North America is worth the price of this book.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3403, Price $21.95


By Milly Lee
Illustrated by Yangsook Choi
2006, 37 pages, Hardback.

After leaving his home in southeastern China, twelve-year-old Sun is held and interrogated on Angel Island before being allowed to join his merchant father in San Francisco.

Author Milly Lee and illustrator Yangsook Choi once again use an actual person's real life story to create a wonderful Children's story book.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3404, Price $16.00

Copyright © 2006 by
Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. (a non-profit organization since 1970)
Materials from the 2006 Growing Up Asian In America Program are Copyrighted © by the cited creators and the Asian Pacific Fund
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