Ni hao! Kamusta! Xin chào! Talofa! These are ways to say hello in Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese and Samoan — some of the primary languages spoken by Asian Pacific American students and families in the San Francisco Unified School District. This month in May, we recognize APA Heritage Month to honor and uplift the many important contributions of Asian Pacific Americans who are essential to San Francisco’s history, present and future.
In the SFUSD, we want our schools to be places where every student can see and be themselves. We celebrate the diversity of our students and communities. We honor our APA communities each day in our public schools and have some special things in store for graduating high school seniors as well as students moving on to middle and high school. This year, we are holding our first-ever Virtual Acknowledgement Ceremony for Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander fifth graders, eighth graders and seniors. There is also a virtual graduation ceremony for our Filipinx students.
Teachers and staff are working on APA-themed lessons to teach to students during this month. For instance, teacher librarian Marie Tang from Jean Parker and Garfield Elementary along with Garfield’s social worker Rene Kamm shared this video to kick off their series of lessons. Our TV show for K-2 students, “SF Loves Learning,” compiled videos and resources for students to learn more about and celebrate APA Heritage Month.
In San Francisco, this year’s celebration theme is Celebrate Resilience, Uplift Voices. As the API community has been experiencing very trying times as a result of both the anti-Asian hate pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s celebration is about showcasing the resilience of the API community in the face of adversities and amplifying the community’s united voice in response to hate attacks and systemic inequities.
There are a variety of ways to celebrate within our community, both virtually and in-person. You can watch live performances and films, learn in workshops from APA artists and cooks, and more! I also recommend shopping or grabbing a meal from our local APA-owned small businesses. Check out the full online guide to celebrate APA Heritage Month, created by the APA Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Asian Art Museum, the Center for Asian American Media and the San Francisco Public Library. You can also visit the San Francisco Asian American Heritage Month Facebook page to participate in virtual events and more.
As we recognize this special month, I’d like to reiterate that we cannot be silent about the scapegoating of the Asian community. We have to stand together against violence perpetrated against any member of our community, and right now there is an increase in violence against our Asian brothers and sisters. It is unacceptable and we must recommit ourselves to creating safe communities for each and every person. SFUSD has shared resources with educators to navigate conversations with students about anti-Asian violence. I encourage you to review and share these resources from our staff and curated by our community partners with your families.
See you later — zài jiàn, magkita tayo mamaya, hẹn gặp lại, feiloai mulimuli ane!
Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.