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Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the DMV

There are events all over the DC metro area to celebrate and learn more about Asian American and Pacific Islander culture.

WASHINGTON — May 1 kicked off the first weekend of the month-long celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage.

May has been designated as AAPI-heritage month since 1992 and the month was chosen to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants who came to the United States on May 7, 1843, as well as to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, which many Chinese immigrants worked on, according to asianpacificheritage.gov.

The month specifically highlights people with heritage from any part of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

Events highlighting the culture and celebrating the month are taking place across the D.C. metro area. Find a list and links to more information below.

Please note: although organized by location, many of these events are virtual.


DC Public Library

Talking About Microaggressions

Thursday, May 13 at 7 p.m.

"Inspired by Mira Jacob's graphic memoir Good Talk, Philip Espe (DC Public Library) lead a discussion with Lupita Aquino (Lupita Reads), poet Regie Cabico (Capturing Fire) and Ashleigh Coran (Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery) about how these experiences shape our lives and ways to address them as they're happening."

Origami & A Story

May 20, 4 p.m.

"Hear the story Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge and make an Origami Basket."

AAPI reads and book recommendations during the #DCPLNewYA Twitter chat

Monday, May 24 at 8 p.m.

Smithsonian Institution

Saving Chinatown and Our Legacies 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 6:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.

"Join a panel of chefs, advocates, and activists who discuss the future of Chinatowns across the country."

Smithsonian Social Studies Online: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Thursday, May 6, 2021, 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

"Join the National Museum of American History for an online exploration into key social studies topics, featuring museum resources from the Smithsonian. This episode will focus on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month."

Southeast Asia Got Something to Say

Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 6:30 p.m. – 8 a.m.

"What makes Southeast Asian cooking and eating truly unique goes beyond the pungent flavors, colorful ingredients, and history of immigration often associated with the businesses built on these lesser-known culinary treasures. How will these cultural hubs keep their doors open during a global pandemic against doubly stacked odds, with anti-Asian racism at an all-time high? Is Southeast Asian food still on the rise? Can it maintain its pre-pandemic momentum as it approaches mainstream popularity—and, eventually, even ubiquity?"

Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum

Virtual Exhibit: Chinatown Preserving Our Place

"A Washington DC History Project presented by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum."

National Portrait Gallery

Series of events: Young Portrait Explorers

"Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at the Portrait Gallery with a series of Young Portrait Explorers. Join our virtual workshops for children ages 3-6 and their adult companions as we learn about art, history, and more! Each week in May, Portrait Gallery educators will lead a 30-minute program on a different Asian American or Pacific Islander that incorporates close looking at portraiture, movement and art-making."


Judy Huilan Chen and Liming Huang, Traditional Chinese Strings

Friday, May 7, 2021, at 12 p.m. Free for all ages. 

"Be transported to East Asia during your lunch hour with traditional Chinese string instruments. Join Judy Chen on the guzheng and Liming Huang on the erhu as they play expressive and beautiful melodies. A transformative and elegant performance for all to enjoy."

Alif Laila, Classical Indian Sitar Music

Friday, May 14, 2021, at 12 p.m. Free for all ages. 

"Travel to South Asia with this mystical musical performance of traditional Indian music. Join Alif Laila, an internationally renowned Indian sitar player and founder of the music school Sitar Niketan. Accompanied by Haroon Alam on the tabla and Jeff Byers on the Tanpura, don’t miss your chance to experience the mesmerizing resonance of classical Indian music."

Prince George's County Memorial Library System

Children's Reader's Advisory: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Wednesday, May 05 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

"Discover awesome books by Asian Pacific American authors in both fiction and nonfiction genres ranging from storybooks to graphic novels and longer chapter books."

Cooking Demo: East Asian Noodles

Thursday, May 13 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

"Find out about a variety of East Asian noodles then cook along with Rachel and Will to make Udon Noodle Soup and Soba Noodle Salad."


Alexandria Library

Art Explorers - Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Monday, May 10 All-day

"A virtual video program about Ruth Asawa, a famous Japanese American sculptor. Learn about her life and art techniques, then try making her sculptures at home!"

Tween Art Cherry Blossom Painting Craft

Tuesday, May 25 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

"Join Miss Amanda during Asian/Pacific Heritage Month as she guides you through painting a picture of a cherry blossom tree and shares more about its significance."

Who’s an Immigrant?

May 25, 2021 07:00 p.m.

"Through music, learn the lesser-known stories about why Asians migrated to the U.S. and their experiences here. The topics discussed include naturalization laws, refugees, and transnational adoption."

Scribble Book Club

Friday, May 28 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

"In honor of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, join Mia Tang on her quest save her motel, help her parents, and tackle the challenges of 5th grade. This book was selected in celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Pick up your copy of the Scribble Book Club book Front Desk by Kelly Yang from the Children's Desk or through Duncan Curbside pick up. Please put Scribble Book Club May in the comments field of your appointment and the number of copies you'll need."

Have an event that you think should be featured on this list? Text WUSA9 the details at (202) 895-5599.

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