As aapiNHV expands its membership in New Haven, the organization plans to host three events to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month and bring the AAPI New Haven community closer together.
Staff Reporter & Contributor Reporter
Yale Daily News
Prior to the Atlanta spa shootings of March 2020, New Haven had no formal organizing group for the city’s AAPI residents. Following the tragedy, AAPI members from the New Haven and Yale communities came together to form aapiNHV, a group able to represent the diversity and rich history of the AAPI peoples.
Thirteen months later, aapiNHV has expanded its membership and is now planning three events to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in May.
“We have a lot of things planned this year, which is great,” said Jennifer Heikkila Díaz, co-founder of aapiNHV. “We also try to do different types of events as different people want to engage with the group in different ways. The AAPI community is an umbrella. With so many languages and so many cultures and so many, so many different identities represented underneath. It doesn’t make sense for us to only do certain types of events… and we really want to live our mission of being that cross-generational collective.”
To kick off the month, the organization is planning a Showtimes movie night at the Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas for the newly released Asian-dominated sci-fi film Everything Everywhere All at Once.
According to Diaz, late last year the group hosted a similar movie night for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings for members of the New Haven community to attend.
According to Anh Bton, aapiNHV, the group is also planning a speed-dating-like event called the “World Cafe” method, where large groups of people share their stories and experiences.
“We just wanted to create a space where people from different generations, different backgrounds and different classes could come together and talk about it while sharing a meal,” Bton said. “So that’s another thing we plan to do and we’re hoping to get a good turnout there.”
After those two events, Diaz told the News that the group also plans to start a book club where people can share diverse AAPI perspectives and experiences.
According to Diaz, storytelling is an important aspect of aapiNHV. She pointed out that many past meetings of aapiNHV have revolved around groups of people sharing their stories.
In the spirit of storytelling, the group also plans to host a garden event where AAPI elders in New Haven can share their historical experiences with younger members of the AAPI community. According to Bton, gardening has historically been scorned but has recently become fashionable or “fashionable”. The group hopes to help community members reflect on the historical implications of gardening.
“I thought it would be nice to have some kind of event … we’re doing something to bring that lens back and understand how these stories now inform how other people do or don’t do their gardening,” Bton said. “So we’re trying to plan an event related to the garden community right now and hopefully we’ll have something to eat there too.”
According to Diaz, planning these events was a collaborative effort that brought members of the AAPI community together to create events that could better highlight the history of AAPI both in the United States and around the world.
aapiNHV emphasizes the horizontality of its management structure without formal managers.
“Knowing our stories and sharing our stories can be grounding and confidence-building – both for us personally and as an AAPI community,” said Caroline Tanbee Smith, organizer at aapiNHV. “So I am very excited about our collaboration with aapiNHV in organizing AAPI Heritage Month. We hope to create spaces throughout the month for the AAPI community in New Haven to organize gatherings to honor our diverse stories and work towards our future together.”
aapiNHV was founded in March 2020.