The Asian American and Pacific Islanders bring awareness to the similarities and differences in their communities

Autumn Layton, Features Editor

The panelists each giving their introduction.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is in May, but California State University, Bakersfield decided to celebrate early with an important panel discussion to explore the diverse experiences of the different Asian and Pacific Islander communities.  

The panel discussion was on April 19, 2023, in the Student Union Multi-Purpose Room at 12:00 p.m. Upon arrival, lunch was provided and Panda Express was on the menu, along with fresh water.  

Before the discussion began, Asian Faculty and Staff Network co-chair Aaron Wan gave an amazing introduction to the event. Then followed International Student Center Director Sonia Siva, who introduced herself and then let the panelists give a quick background about themselves.  

The six panelists were from different ethnic backgrounds, some from CSUB or from the Bakersfield community. There were panelists that are mixed with Samoan, Taiwanese, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern. Each of their experiences was different and each person answered each question with much depth. They were asked about important traditions, advice to give other international students, childhood experiences, and social justice issues. 

When asked about Anti-Asian violence that has happened in the U.S., student Christina Ha said, “The Stop Anti-Asian American Hate helped bring attention to the issues in the community.”  

The different crimes that were happening in the Asian community affected and hurt everyone on the panel. Bakersfield physician Dr. Patrick Leung mentioned his experience visiting the Bay Area and wondering why all the Chinese shops closed early. It was due to the community vandalizing and stealing from Chinese restaurants and shops. The reason for all the hate was that the Chinese community was seen to be the most vulnerable community.  

“The Chinese not fighting back but the Koreans will,” said Dr. Leung. That made the Chinese community a target and caused them to lose financially due to them closing so early.  

The most common answer that all the panelists agreed with was how cultural traditions are important. Food, family, and dances are what’s the most important to carry on throughout the generations.  

Junior Wefaq Alshami, who is Yemen and middle eastern talked about her family’s experience with Ramadan. 

 “At the end of the month they celebrate with a party, we don’t focus on individualism, we do things as a collective,” said Alshami 

Questions from the audience were towards the end of the discussion and the panelists answered with much insight. People that came to learn more about the Asian American and Pacific Islanders community were glad to have learned about their experiences.  

Junior majoring in psychology Sarahi Lopez enjoyed learning more about the different types of communities. It was in lightening to learn how a lot of the  

 “ I like learning how as being a part of a different minority community we share common things and how they emphasize having a close culture,” said Lopez 

Taking pride in your background and culture is also important when visiting a foreign place. They all emphasized that showing up and speaking is the only way for them to be heard and bring change to the different Asian communities.  

Check out most of the panel’s discussion on YouTube: