Every May, those in the United States honor the Asian American and Pacific Islander* (AAPI) individuals and communities who have enriched our nation’s history, contribute to its present flourishing, and work toward its future success. The month of May was chosen, and eventually formalized by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, to honor the month in which the first Japanese immigrant came to the United States in 1843, and the month in which the transcontinental railroad was completed, largely by Chinese immigrants, in 1869. At the Murdock Trust, AAPI Heritage Month gives us a chance to recognize the myriad and significant ways AAPI individuals and communities are working for the common good throughout the Pacific Northwest, through preserving history, providing culturally sensitive health care, offering beautiful cultural monuments, and so much more.
Here are just a few of the incredible organizations doing life-affirming work within these communities:
In Tacoma, WA, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) aims to bridge communities and generations through arts, culture, education, and businesses that promote greater awareness and understanding of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. APCC hosts art shows and food festivals, cultural programs and youth programs, and much more.
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is a cultural anchor in the heart of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. Approximately 70,000 visitors annually experience the stories, art, and culture of the Asian Pacific American people through the museum’s 8 annual exhibitions and 70+ public programs. Recent exhibits have explored the legacy of Bruce Lee, asked the question “What defines beauty?”, featured stories from local Burmese/Myanmar communities, and more.
The Asian Health and Service Center has been serving the Portland metropolitan area since 1983. It seeks to improve healthcare quality for Asian Americans, offer culturally comfortable resources for Portland’s Asian communities, and be a bridge between Asian and American cultures. In response to an identified gap in cancer support, screenings, and resources for Asian Americans, for whom cancer is the leading cause of death, the center is working to launch Oregon’s first Asian Cancer Resource and Support Center.
The Japanese American Museum of Oregon preserves the history and culture of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest while educating the public about the Japanese American experience during WWII and advocating for civil rights protection for all Americans. Located in the heart of downtown Portland, the museum serves 8,000 visitors annually, approximately 80% of which are from cultural backgrounds other than Japanese American.
Just down the street in downtown Portland lies the Lan Su Chinese Garden. This garden provides an oasis of beauty and harmony to visitors, while inspiring them to appreciate a richly authentic Chinese culture. The organization hosts year-round cultural programming, including a festival for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, & Pacific Islander communities, Chinese New Year, and more. It is considered the most authentic Chinese garden in North America.
As we celebrate the incredible work of nonprofits from many cultures and backgrounds throughout the year, we are grateful to pause and reflect on the unique ways organizations are supporting the AAPI community in the Pacific Northwest. THANK YOU to each of these organizations and the many others who are supporting AAPI individuals, families, and communities, and in doing this, enriching our entire region.
*Note: It is Murdock Trust policy to always defer to the preferences of our grantees regarding cultural terms. In this blog post, organizations use Asian and Pacific Islander, Asian Pacific Islander, and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, & Pacific Islander. We have chosen to use the preferred phrase of each group when discussing their work.