Celebrations are in full-swing for Asian Heritage Month which is celebrated in both Canada and the USA during the month of May. This is a time to honor the legacy of generations of Asian Canadians and Asian Americans who have enriched their country’s history and are instrumental in its future success. It is a time to participate in festivities that celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Asians who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada and the USA the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nations we know today.
As part of their celebrations for Asian American Heritage Month, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association announced the winner and honor books in the 2009 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature. These awards promote Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage based on literary and artistic merit, and our congratulations go out to Wabi Sabi, written by Mark Reibstein and illustrated by Ed Young, which won the picture book award. Back in 2008, PaperTiger bloggers Marj and Aline were thrilled to see the proofs for Wabi Sabi at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and Marj posted a great review of Wabi Sabi here.
Winners have also been announced in the Growing Up Asian in America Art and Essay contest, which is open to students in grades K – 12 who reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. This year’s theme was “Change- If you could change one thing to make the world a better place, what would that be?”. I was especially drawn to Claire Dworsky’s essay entitled Change Your Assumptions, in which she wrote:
To me, growing up Asian is the same as any kid most of the time. I go to school, gymnastics, soccer, play with my dog, play outside – normal stuff.
But sometimes other people say things that make me feel sad or different. They make fun of my eyes and call me Chinese. They yell, “Hey Chinois!” They ask questions that aren’t really questions, like “Are you really adopted?” I say “Yes I was adopted from Kayakhstan, a country between Russia and China. I can show you on a map if you want.” But they’re really using these questions to make fun of me. And it’s even worse. When Asian girls pick on me by saying “Oh, you have blue eyes you think you are all that.” Racism is hurtful, no matter who says it.
Claire concludes her essay with a powerful statement that all of us, young and old, should take to heart: “When you know how it feels to be discriminated against you should use that feeling to imagine how others feel, and change yourself so you can help others.” The winning entries of the Growing Up Asian in America contest will be on exhibit at several locations throughout the Bay Area until February 2010. Click here to see the schedule.