Hill celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with food and festivities

Students receiving henna in honor for AAPI Heritage Month

Media: Sissi Zhen '24

Students receiving henna in honor for AAPI Heritage Month

Comprised of students hailing from over 25 countries worldwide, the Hill community brings together a diverse and distinctive mix of people. As we are now in the month of May, the celebration of the culture and heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders commences.  

Originating in 1976, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month aimed to recognize and honor how they contributed to the history of the U.S. and beyond. Even more so after the pandemic, May also acknowledges the everyday challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the ever-changing world. During this time, their voices are uplifted and heard more than ever. 

In March of 2021, The Hill School launched the Asian American and Pacific Islander movement in response to the violent Asian hate occurring during the pandemic. To support students, an affinity group was established to help relieve stress and lessen their emotional burden.  

“One focus we discussed during this time was the Asian-American experience and how that differentiates and is often overlooked at Hill,” John Ju ’23, the leader of the organization, said. “Being ethnically Asian but growing up in America was, and still is, a small group of students here.”  

Today, the diversity, equity and inclusivity council’s platform expanded by reaching a wider audience through various social events, like the celebration on the last Sunday of April. 

With such a diverse group of students, the Hill School aims to support students from all backgrounds and cultures. As the co-leader for New Students of Color, Sissi Zhen ’24 planned events to help support Asian American and Pacific Islander students, like the one on April 30.  

Along with help from the Rev. Khristi L. Adams, Firestone Endowment Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual Life and Equity as well as the faculty member of DEI, Zhen held a kickoff event on April 30 to celebrate the start of the historical Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  

In the Warner Center, Henna tattoos were drawn to raise awareness of their heritage. The catered food provided by House of India, a prominent Indian restaurant located in Royersford, was among the highlights of the celebration that afternoon. While the turnout was less than expected, Sissi claimed that the event was nonetheless successful.  

In the coming weeks, Zhen plans to host an event about the spiritual aspect of Japanese origami. By working with Hoda Ehsan, associate director of engineering, she wants to combine the celebration of Japanese culture with spirituality. By doing so, she hopes to engage more students in the month-long celebration of the heritage of Asian American and Pacific Islanders. 

Simultaneously, students who identify as Asian American and Pacific Islanders play a major role in celebrations by providing feedback.  

“At The Hill School, Asian Americans play a vital and special role due to the usual division in society between Asian Americans and international residents, Zhen explained. “In our community, these two groups are often divided due to perceived opinions about each other. Through organizing inclusive activities celebrating all types of Asian culture, the space between the two groups can slowly be closed.”   

Lulu Zhou ’26 shared that at Hill she feels that her opinions and thoughts are truly heard and cared for. “With the numerous cultural celebrations at Hill, I feel that students of all backgrounds can appreciate theirs, even if they are not at home,” Zhou said.  

In the near future, she hopes to see more events with authentic Chinese food. Zhou, like many others, believes that the Hill community, especially the DEI council serves as a platform to allow the voices and cultures of minority groups to be heard.