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AAPI Heritage Month Celebration Brings Ravens Together


As part of the celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month throughout May, students in both the Middle School and the Upper School had the opportunity to try new things and learn about history, foods, cultures and more.

Clockwise from top left: A sign in the Olander Center heralds AAPI Heritage Month; Ethan Cates ’30 samples rice served by Reyna Williams ’28 of the Middle School AAPI Affinity Group; Jackson Burgess ’29 and Andrew Nunalee ’29 try Jianzi during recess; Carter Burns ’29 works with Upper Schoolers Yoning Liu ’26 and Puja Patel ’26 to learn Chinese yo-yo.


The month of May has been designated as a time to reflect and celebrate the important role that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have played in Americans’ shared history. Starting out as a weeklong observance in 1979, the heritage celebration was expanded to the entire month by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Activities and announcements exploring the contributions and cultures of Americans of Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander heritage were organized by affinity groups in both the Middle School and the Upper School.

In the Middle School, the AAPI Affinity Group gave students the opportunity to learn about the many varieties of rice used in traditional dishes across these communities. Families prepared dishes and brought them in for students to sample during lunch on May 8. In addition, Middle Schoolers had the opportunity to explore recreational activities including Chinese yo-yo and Jianzi (shuttlecock) during their recess, with Upper School students joining in some days as well.

“I feel very happy to see Middle Schoolers step outside their comfort zones to try new activities,” Middle School Mandarin teacher Chiu-Ping Lin, who is the group’s advisor, said. “Whether it was participating in the rice bar event, where they tried new foods, or engaging in Asian games like Chinese Yo-Yo during recess time, their enthusiasm was inspiring. I am excited to witness our students enjoying and embracing the diverse cultures in our community.”

In the Upper School, activities led by the Pan Asian Affinity Group included sharing Korean and Chinese snacks and preparing a ramen bar, at which students in both Upper and Middle School could try different spice levels and fixings including eggs, chili oil, scallions, sesame oil and spam. Cultural activities available during community time included chopstick games, Jianzi and a board game called carrom. Many students and parents attended a special performance by the Upper School jazz band Guava Groove Collective as part of the Common Roots Festival, which took place May 18 in Moore Square. In addition, two food trucks — Sister Liu’s Kitchen and Bobasaur — offered students more tasty foods to sample. 

Clockwise from top left: Upper School Pan Asian Affinity Group members Tul Cherukuri ’24, Puja Patel ’26, Jin Jeong ’25, Yoning Liu ’26, Eun Yoo ’24 and Claire Dillon ’25 serve snacks with a parent volunteer; Olivia Rivera ’25, Anika Bhatia Villarama ’25, Benya Wilfret ’25 and Victor Qi ’25 sample ramen; Puja Patel ’26, Shrutav Deshpande ’26, Jai Gupta ’25, Paulie Brooks ’25 and Soham Belur ’26 play carrom.

Students in the Pan Asian Affinity Group said that, while planning and executing a month’s worth of activities was a lot of work, the enthusiasm and enjoyment their classmates showed made them very proud.

“Our small Asian American community within Ravenscroft working together to display a shared aspect of our identity strengthened our bond. It helped me realize the value of community, demonstrating that even in hectic times like AP exams, there will always be people to support you,” Luke Thomann ’25 said. “Sharing our culture with people outside of our community brought me immense pride and joy, as the Asian part of me was celebrated instead of something I tried to hide.”

Yoning Liu ’26 agreed, saying the experience “has made me appreciate my own culture more and more. I am glad that we have been able to share our games and traditions for other people to enjoy. Being a part of our Pan Asian Affinity Group has brought me closer to people that I would have never been friends with. I love being able to share my experiences with other people and helping others learn more about me,” she said. 

Upper School history and social studies teacher Daniel Munns, who is co-advisor along with Mandarin teacher Yi-Wen Liu, said the entire year felt like a success for the group as a whole.

“We grew as a group and as a community, we learned the value of togetherness and appreciation for what we represent, and we are all excited about what next year will bring us,” he said.