As you might know, May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. While you may be wondering how to make this celebration relevant in your Spanish classroom, I want to help you think of some easy ways that are little to no-prep! Let’s start with this FREEBIE!
Facts for Spanish Class: Immigration Trends
It may come as a surprise to many, but there is a significant history of immigration of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to Latin America. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Chinese and Japanese laborers were brought to countries such as Peru and Mexico to work on plantations and in mines. Later, in the mid-20th century, there was a wave of immigration from Southeast Asia, particularly from Vietnam and Cambodia, to countries such as Chile and Argentina.
My grandmother grew up in a small country in South America called Guyana, which neighbored several Spanish-speaking countries. She used to tell me about the many Asian descendants that lived in Guyana as a result of immigration trends and a need for workers. For me, it was always normal to think of South America as having alcoves of Asian communities!
🤷🏽♀️ First, our why:
Why is it important to acknowledge AAPI in our Spanish classes? First and foremost, AAPI Heritage Month offers an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the diversity of our students. The Spanish-speaking world is vast and varied, and so are the cultural backgrounds of our students. By acknowledging the contributions and experiences of AAPI communities, we help foster an inclusive learning environment that honors the unique experiences and perspectives of each of our students.
Secondly, AAPI Heritage Month is an opportunity to promote cultural awareness and understanding. It provides a chance for us to teach our students about the history, traditions, and customs of AAPI communities within the context of Spanish class, which will expand their cultural knowledge and broaden their worldview.
Lastly, AAPI Heritage Month is a reminder of the importance of solidarity and unity. Sadly, hate crimes and discrimination against AAPI communities are on the rise: it’s more important than ever to stand together and support one another. By incorporating AAPI Heritage Month into our curriculum, we can promote empathy, compassion, and a sense of community among our students.
What you can do in class?
- Read and discuss literature by AAPI authors: Incorporate books, short stories, and poems written by AAPI authors into your curriculum. These works can provide insight into the cultural experiences, traditions, and history of AAPI communities.
- Look up AAPI artists and bring their work into class. Perhaps students can imitate their work or learn more about the cultures that are represented. One of my favorite artists is Wifredo Lam, who is a Chinese-Cuban painter. Every year, my students imitate his work and do a short presentation about him.
- Watch videos like the one below, which give further insight into the intersection of the Latino and AAPI communities. Food is another big topic. I actually went to a fusion Chinese-Criollo restaurant in Puerto Rico!
- Look into the lives of famous Asian-Latinos with this free download! You get a set that you can make copies of and pass out in class. Teachers then let students do research on their given person! Check it out! ⤵️