March 25, 2013

SIU to celebrate Asian/Pacific Islander heritage

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A variety of special events and activities highlight Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2013 in April at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The celebration is April 5-29 at various locations on campus.  All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.  A complete schedule will be available at

Sapphire Cureg, director of the Center for Inclusive Excellence, said that according to Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends, 83 percent of Asian Americans could trace their ancestry to six countries -- China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam.  The annual festival is a celebration of the people and their cultures.

Events this year include an iron chef competition, a “Taste of Asian” event, Japanese art show, special art displays and workshops, and an award-winning documentary on the Bataan Death March.

The festival opens with an Asian American Cultural Demonstration from 2 to 5 p.m., April 5, in the south hall of the Student Center.  Visitors will be able to explore Asian cultures through games, activities and demonstrations by international students from various Asian/Pacific islander nations.

The Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month kickoff is from 5 to 6:30 p.m., April 9, in the lower level of Grinnell Hall.  SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng will offer remarks, and John Nay, a diplomat-in-residence with the U.S. Department of State, will share his experiences.  Nay’s 35-year career includes service in Taiwan, Singapore, and India, as well U.S. ambassador in Suriname.

University Museum, in Faner Hall, will showcase Asian art displays and anthropological fieldwork displays from April 9 to 20.  An exhibit in Morris Library’s third-floor rotunda from April 1 to May 13 will highlight books by and about Asian Americans.

An April 18 panel discussion “My World, Your World, Understanding Across Differences,” will feature Asian heritage students sharing their experiences growing up in the United States and around the world.  The discussion, which begins at 3 p.m. in the Student Center Missouri Room, will offer a unique set of perspectives and a “snapshot of different customs,” according to organizers.

On April 29, the award-winning 2011 documentary, “The Tragedy of Bataan,” will air at 11:30 a.m. in Woody Hall, room C227.  The 30-minute film by Jan Thompson, an associate professor in SIU’s Department of Radio, Television and Digital Media, focused on what soldiers faced in a 65-mile forced march after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese in the spring of 1942.  Narrated by Alec Baldwin, the film features accounts of more than 20 Bataan Death March survivors. The first-person documentary also used archival photos, and never-before-seen Japanese propaganda film footage.  The showing will also include a brief discussion led by Cureg.

Sponsors include the Center for Inclusive Excellence, the United Asian American Council, Black Resource Center, Progressive Masculinities Mentors, Hispanic Resource Center, School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies, International Student Council, the Student Center Craft Shop, University Museum, and Vine Community Church.

For additional information, contact Heather Hernandez at the Center for Inclusive Excellence at 618/453-3470 or by emailing