by Ryan Park
During the month of May, the United States recognizes Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This celebration, spanning from May 1st to May 31st, honors the contributions and accomplishments of Asian Americans, Pacific Islander Americans, and Native Hawaiians.
Why the month of May?
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill that was passed by Congress to expand Asian American Heritage Week into the entirety of the month. Two years later, it was renamed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to recognize the contributions of all Americans of Asian descent. The month of May was chosen because it commemorates the first immigration of Japanese Americans on May 7, 1843. In addition, it commemorates the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, as Asian immigrants made crucial contributions to our country’s first coast-to-coast railway.
Making their Mark in America
An important aspect of the commemoration of AAPI Heritage Month is sharing the many life stories of those of Asian descent.
Born May 31, 1912, Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu is a pivotal figure in the history of physics. An immigrant to the United States from China, she did important work for the nuclear Manhattan Project, helping to develop the process for separating uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. Wu studied nuclear physics at the University of California, Berkeley where she got the chance to learn from physicists like J. Robert Oppenheimer. She later went on to become the first female instructor in the Physics Department at Princeton University, and her contributions to experimental physics include the Wu experiment, which proved that parity is not conserved.
On March 12, 2023, at the 95th Academy Awards, Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress for the film Everything Everywhere All at Once. You can also find her in other popular movies like Shang Chi; Crazy Rich Asians; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and Wicked.
On that same day, Vietnamese-American actor Ke Huy Quan won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the same movie. Ke Huy Quan was the first Asian to win this award in 38 years! A fun fact is that Ke Huy Quan was the actor who played the part of Short Round, a young boy in the popular Indiana Jones movie series.
Chloe Kim, a Korean-American Olympic snowboarder, is the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in snowboarding. In the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang, Chloe became a gold medalist in the women’s snowboard halfpipe at the age of 17 and later became a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Although she has taken a break from the sport, she is set to return to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.
You can find out more on: https://www.asianpacificheritage.gov/Read More
by Milan Riley
While the state of California does not require high school students to complete a certain amount of volunteer hours to graduate, numerous schools either encourage it or make it mandatory for graduation. This applies to particular middle schools, as well. The reason for this is that volunteering helps communities, prepares students for their future jobs, and appeals to colleges.
What amount of volunteer hours is preferred by colleges? The majority of high schools with such a requirement ask students to complete at least 100 hours of volunteer work. Between 50 to 200 hours of volunteering shows commitment and experience. However, any less than 50 hours is not especially impressive and over 200 hours could seem excessive. Most sources state 100 hours is a good average.
If you’re looking to volunteer, either to help your community or because you’re looking to bolster your college application, here are some volunteer options:
1. Coastal/beach cleanups:
Picking up trash along the coast is a common form of volunteering. This activity helps the environment and gets you close to the beach! Heal The Bay is a good place to start: https://healthebay.org/beach-cleanups/ .
2. Red Cross:
For years, the Red Cross has helped victims of disasters and provided communities programs that help prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Teen volunteer opportunities: https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer/youth-opportunities.html
3. Jr. Lifeguard:
Lifeguards could always use help making the waters safer for everyone. It’s physically engaging and a fun experience for strong swimmers. Lifeguards also supervise pool decks and teach groups how to swim. Check out the County of Los Angeles Junior Lifeguard program: https://fire.lacounty.gov/junior-lifeguard-program/ .
Los Angeles Public Libraries offer numerous volunteer options ranging from online teen council meetings, writing book reports, and in-person activities. If you enjoy books or representing other teens your age, check out their website for more details: https://volunteer.lapl.org/ .
Community parks offer volunteer positions in athletic programs, after school programs, and general park maintenance. Volunteers help out groundskeepers, keep hiking or equestrian trails functional, and guide visitors around the park. This website is looking for volunteers aged 14 or above to lend a hand at LA county parks: https://parks.lacounty.gov/volunteers/ .
There are so many more opportunities to volunteer in addition to those listed above. Not all volunteer work may count towards volunteer hours for schools, but it’s kind to just help out your community in your spare time! And as a bonus: studies show that volunteering helps to improve your mental and emotional health.
The articles below have lists of additional volunteer options, especially for teens: