CONTRIBUTED BY LILIA BURTONPATEL
In a high school with over 2,000 students, finding a community where one feels comfortable can be difficult, especially as a minority student. However, the Asian Pacific American Club (APAC) greets students with a welcoming space.
Club presidents and seniors Yuki Hoshi, Lilia Burtonpatel and Lily Lockwood first joined APAC in their freshman year. APAC is designed to create a stronger Asian community and celebrate Asian culture.
“I think it’s just a wonderful place because it enables you to have a community, but it also enables you to make change and learn new things,” Burtonpatel said.
During the X-block club meetings, members enjoy a flexible environment where they can play games from countries across Asia, meet new people who share their cultural background, eat some of the commonly available snacks or catch up on homework before their next class.
“I joined APAC because I was promised food, but then it became the friends I made and then it became the events that we did. This year, it’s the pride I feel,” Hoshi said.
APAC’s yearly events include potlucks, trips to Chinatown, APAC homecoming and, most notably, the Lunar New Year festival. The Lunar New Year festival is a whole day affair with an assembly, Asian performances, singing, games and food.
Most recently, APAC has been taking on a social justice role within the school, according to APAC adviser Karen Wong.
“They have been taking more action in reaching out to the admins, reaching out to their members to see how they’re feeling and what they’re doing and they set up the vigil for the Atlanta shooting,” Wong said.
APAC is also in the process of developing a curriculum centered around Asian history and culture within the United States.
“We saw that the lack of awareness surrounding anti-Asian hate and the lack of understanding of Asian Americans in the country very much stemmed from education,” Hoshi said. “Initially, the curriculum plan was to create this one hour long lecture that we would present to sophomores and freshmen, teaching them about AAPI month and what that means and what various issues pertain to our community.”
Instead, the club is now working on adding more AAPI representation into humanities classes.
Burtonpatel said that there is a lack of material written by AAPI authors in the English curriculum, as well as little mention of Asia in history.
“There were just all these places that are so important and rich in history and essential to knowing and understanding our world, and we just never learned about them,” Burtonpatel said.
Though the high school does its best to provide all students with a welcoming learning environment, according to Hoshi, the APAC presidents feel there is still work to be done.
“It really starts with microaggressions and these small instances that build up. It’s difficult to talk about those because they happen so frequently that they become normalized,” Hoshi said.
Lockwood said that the disparity between the number of Asian students at the high school compared to staff makes it hard for AAPI students to find adults they can relate to.
“To have someone be aware that we need support before we’d have to voice it ourselves is very helpful,” Hoshi said.
Former club adviser Sydney Hou said APAC events will be held throughout the school year and everyone is invited to attend regardless of ethnic identity.
“They work so hard and sometimes their reach is limited because of what people think APAC does, but it really is for everybody. So showing up and supporting them, that’d be awesome,” Hou said.
Currently, APAC meets in room 211 during X-block.
“The three of us definitely want to stress that anyone can join,” Hoshi said. “Whether that be for one club, whether that be for the whole year. Our doors are never closed to anyone.”
To stay updated on their latest happenings, you can visit the APAC website, or follow them on instagram @bhs.apac.