young women dancing at the Cultural Show at SIU Carbondale

March 14, 2023

SIU celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in March, April

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale will be recognizing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month with a wide variety of special events, including guest speakers, workshops and more. Although the official nationwide commemoration occurs in May, the university is hosting its celebration in late March and April while more students and faculty are on campus.

“Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an important celebration for the SIU community,” said Renada Greer, executive director of the Student Multicultural Resource Center and Trio Programs. “As with all our heritage celebrations, we want to make sure our diverse students, faculty and staff feel valued and supported. We look forward to learning more about the Asian and Pacific Islander cultures and how we can continue to be supportive.”

Celebration begins March 21

The kickoff event, “Empowering Asian American Pacific Islander Voices: Celebrating Heritage and Advancing Inclusion,” is set for 4-5:30 p.m. March 21 at the Old Main Room at the Student Center. Everyone is welcome, and there is no cost to attend.

Panelists Xiaoyan “May” Bao, Nilanjana Bardhan and Jennifer Butler will share their personal experiences as AAPI professionals and discuss the challenges and opportunities they have encountered during their careers. All three are faculty or staff members at SIU. Bao is the accounting program interim director and associate professor, while Bardhan is professor of communication studies and Butler is director of diversity and inclusion for the College of Business and Analytics. Each has diverse backgrounds and different experiences and their stories include involvement with diversity, inclusion, international peacebuilding and business.

Expanding knowledge

A pair of events are designed to enhance participants’ AAPI knowledge and experience, organizers say.

“Exploring the Asian College Student Experience: Perspectives and Insights,” at 3:30 p.m. April 11 in the Old Main Room at the Student Center, will include a variety of perspectives as the panelists share their personal stories and insights about the challenges and opportunities they have encountered. The event will provide an enhanced understanding of what university life is like for Asian and Asian American students today. Sumikshya Lama, a Master of Accounting and MBA candidate along with Ushna Altaf, a second-year law school student, and other Salukis will share as Tanvi Reddy Dasaripally, a master’s student in computer science and computing teaching assistant, serves as moderator.

“Challenging the Stereotype: Beyond the Asian Model Minority Myth,” set for 3:30 p.m. April 25 at the Old Main Room of the Student Center, will feature student and faculty/staff panelists sharing their insights about how the myth perpetuates damaging narratives that oversimplify and distort the perception of the diverse experiences of Asian individuals. The discussion will focus on ways people can work together to confront and deconstruct harmful stereotypes while building a more inclusive and equitable society.

Panels include:

Butler will moderate this panel discussion.

Explore cultures and more

A variety of other events are planned during the monthlong celebration, giving participants opportunities to explore Asian cultures and more, including:

  • Ramadan Challenge, 5-7 p.m. April 5 in the Student Services Building, Rooms 150/160. The traditional celebration including a fast beginning at dawn and breaking of the fast at sunset. Muslims or anyone interested in learning more about Ramadan are invited to participate in the 5 p.m. “sunset meal” and discussion about the significance of the holiday and experiences.
  • Guided Japanese Painting, 2-4 p.m. April 18, Student Services Building, Rooms 150/160. Try your hand a painting Japanese style during this fun, interesting workshop. No experience needed.
  • Martial Arts Demonstration and Workshop, 2-4 p.m. April 20, Student Services Building 150/160. An experienced instructor from Saiyan Jiu Jitsu studio will demonstrative martial arts skills, and then participants can learn basic techniques and movements in the workshop that follows.
  • Events for the campus community including K-Pop Dance Night for students April 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center and the Asian Faculty and Staff Council Reception, set for 4-5:30 p.m. April 27 at Student Services Building 150/160. The reception will celebrate the new Asian Faculty Staff Council and offer the opportunity to recognize and celebrate contributions of SIU’s Asian faculty and staff and learn more about the council.

Sponsors of SIU’s the AAPI month celebration include the Student Multicultural Resource Center; Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; the College of Business and Analytics diversity and inclusion office, the Muslim Student Association and Beta Alpha Psi.

Find the complete schedule of events and additional information about the month and the university’s Student Multicultural Resource Center, a unit of the Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, contact Greer at or by calling 618-453-3113.

Xiaoyan “May” Bao

Xiaoyan “May” Bao

Nilanjana Bardhan

Nilanjana Bardhan

Jennifer Butler

Jennifer Butler