aapiNHV plans events to celebrate AAPI History Month

As the aapiNHV expands its membership in New Haven, the organization plans to host three events to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month and bring the AAPI New Haven community closer together.

Staff Journalist and Contributing Journalist

Yale Daily News

Prior to the March 2020 Atlanta spa shooting, New Haven did not have an official organizing group for the city’s AAPI residents. Following the tragedy, AAPI members of the New Haven and Yale community came together to create aapiNHV, a group that can represent the diversity and rich history of the AAPI peoples.

Thirteen months later, aapiNHV has expanded its membership and is now planning three events to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in May.

“We have a lot planned this year, which is great,” said aapiNHV co-founder Jennifer Heikkila Díaz. “We also try to have different types of events since different people want to engage in different ways with the group. The AAPI community is an umbrella. With so many languages, so many cultures and so, so many different identity cuts that are represented under this. It doesn’t make sense for us to only have certain types of events…and we really want to live our mission of being this intergenerational collective.

To kick off the month, the organization is planning a Showtimes movie night at the Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas for the new Asian-majority sci-fi flick, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

According to Diaz, the group held a similar movie night for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” late last year for members of the New Haven community.

According to Anh Bton, aapiNHV, the group is also planning an event comparable to speed dating called the “World Cafe” method where large groups of people share their stories and experiences.

“We just wanted to create a space where people from different generations from different backgrounds and different classes could come together and have a conversation about it while enjoying food together,” Bton said. “So that’s another thing we’re planning and hopefully getting a good turnout there.”

After those two events, Diaz told The News that the group also plans to start a book club for people to share different AAPI perspectives and experiences.

Storytelling is an important facet of aapiNHV, according to Diaz. She pointed out that many past aapiNHV meetings have centered around groups of people sharing their stories.

In the spirit of storytelling, the group also plans to host a gardening event where AAPI alumni in New Haven can share their historical experiences with younger members of the AAPI community. According to Bton, gardening has always been looked down upon, but it has recently become fashionable or “trendy”. The group hopes to help community members reflect on the historical implications of gardening.

“I thought it would be nice to have some kind of event…we’re doing something to bring that focus back and understand how these stories now inform how other people may or may not garden,” said Concrete. “So we’re trying to plan a community gardening related event right now and hopefully have some food there too.”

According to Diaz, planning these events has been a collaborative task with members of the AAPI community coming together to create events that can better highlight the history of AAPI in the United States and around the world.

aapiNHV emphasizes the horizontality of its leadership structure without any formal leaders.

“Knowing our stories and sharing our stories can be grounded and build trust – for us individually and as an AAPI community,” said Caroline Tanbee Smith, organizer with aapiNHV. “That’s why I’m excited about our work with aapiNHV to organize AAPI Heritage Month. During the month, we hope to build spaces where the AAPI community of New Haven can co-host gatherings to honor our different histories to to build towards our common future.

aapiNHV was founded in March 2020.


Yash Roy covers education and youth services in New Haven and is a staff member at P&D. He is a freshman at Timothy Dwight College and is originally from Princeton, NJ.

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