Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog

  • Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

    Today marks the beginning of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the incredible diversity within our community and the significant contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders to this nation. It is also a time to reflect on the trials and tribulations our community has overcome and the many challenges still faced, including barriers to equal access to education, employment, and health care, as well as ongoing struggles with discrimination. President Obama expresses this sentiment and more in his 2015 Presidential Proclamation for AAPI Heritage Month.

    As part of the month, we will hold the White House Summit on AAPIs on May 12. This Summit will be an unprecedented and historic all-day convening of senior federal officials and leaders from across the country. The Summit will celebrate President Obama’s leadership, showcase Administration policies and programs that have supported the AAPI community over the past six years, and outline efforts for the next two years and decades to come. Tune in live to the Summit at whitehouse.gov/aapi.   

  • 40 Years Ago: The End of the Vietnam War

    South Vietnamese villagers board a CH-3C helicopter, 1966

    South Vietnamese villagers board a CH-3C helicopter, 1966. (Photo from the National Archives)

    Today marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and the arrival of the Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, and Hmong communities to the United States. As a refugee, I reflect on the sacrifices of families in trying to leave Southeast Asia, and some lucky ones, including my own family, in coming to this country and rebuilding our lives. 

    I was ten years old in April 1975. My memories from that time are similar to the images Americans saw of Vietnam then – only from the perspective of being part of it all. Long lines of refugees escaping the fighting in the countryside – my mother, brother, and I were among them, trying to get to my father in Saigon. The crowded Tan Son Nhut airport where the last flights took off for America – my family slept in the terminal before getting kicked out. The American embassy where the helicopters were picking up refugees off the rooftop – we were in the crowd below. Barges floating aimlessly in the South China Sea – we were on one. American soldiers pulling people onto ships as they dangled above the water – I held on for dear life. My family was among the lucky ones who made it to freedom.

  • The Arts Connect People and Perspectives by Building Welcoming Communities

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the National Endowment for the Arts' blog. See the original post here.

    Jane Chu with parents

    Jane Chu and her parents.

    As Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), I work with a dedicated and passionate group of people and organizations to support and fund the arts in communities across America. I believe what we do is so important, not just to celebrate and affirm the arts as a national priority critical to America's well-being and future; the power of the arts can be transformative and I've experienced firsthand how this works. My story is especially relevant today as the White House Task Force on New Americans has released its report to the President on recommended actions the federal government can take to build integrated and welcoming communities across the nation.

    I was born into multiple cultures, often with seemingly opposing perspectives. Had I not been engaged with the arts, I don’t know if I would have been able to make sense of my own life.

  • Building the Capacity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community in Illinois

    On March 6, 2015, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ Great Lakes Regional Interagency Working Group, comprising representatives from over a dozen federal agencies, partnered with Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) to host a beginner to intermediate-level grantwriting and technical assistance workshop in Chicago, Illinois. More than 30 local community members representing diverse organizations braved the sub-zero winter weather and participated in the all-day training to gain a deeper understanding of grant research, writing, and approval.

    Community members attend an all-day grantwriting and technical assistance training in Chicago (1)

    Community members attend an all-day grantwriting and technical assistance training in Chicago, Illinois, March 6, 2015. (by George Mui)

    The training provided participants with a unique opportunity to learn the dynamics of the grant process from multiple angles and also gave attendees the opportunity to dialogue with representatives from local federal agencies and successful grant recipients. Pedro Arista, MPH, trainer and facilitator from APIAHF, framed the workshop around the following key topics:

    • Preliminary Planning
    • Grant Proposal Development (GPD)
    • Goals and SMART Objectives & Organizational and Staff Experience
    • Budget
    • Continuous Evaluation
    • Putting It All Together

  • Register for the White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

    Please join us for the White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on May 12, 2015, at The George Washington University in Washington, DC! Register today!

    Held during Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, this Summit will be an unprecedented and historic all-day convening of senior federal officials and leaders from across the country. The day will include conversations with federal officials and AAPI leaders, artistic presentations by distinguished AAPI artists, and interactive sessions on diverse issues including economic growth, education, healthcare, civil rights, and immigration. The Summit will celebrate President Obama’s leadership, showcase Administration policies and programs that have supported the AAPI community and others over the past six years, and outline efforts for the next two years and decades to come.

    As a participant, you will have the opportunity to Connect, Share, and Mobilize:

    1. Connect. Interact with federal and community leaders from across the country working on diverse issues to advance the AAPI community.

    2. Share. Discuss your own experiences, stories, and priorities with leaders and other participants.

    3. Mobilize. Gain tools to mobilize your communities to expand opportunity for AAPIs everywhere.

    Your participation in the Summit will be vital as we continue our work together to improve the quality of life for AAPIs. 

    The Summit is free of charge and open to the public.

    Questions? Email WhiteHouseAAPI@ed.gov. Click here for more information on the Summit.

  • Recap: 2015 National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout

    Watch on YouTube

    On February 25, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders held its second National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Community Google+ Hangout. I was joined by Aditi Hardikar, Associate Director at the White House Office of Public Engagement; Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; and Billy Dec, member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs.

    During the Hangout, Konrad shared the AAPI Heritage Month theme, #APAEverywhere, and we also highlighted the White House Summit on AAPIs on May 12 and our new Federal Agency Accomplishments Report.