‘My Heritage Shapes My Identity, Fuels My Passions:’ The Importance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

April is a time for the Syracuse University community to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

Celebrated nationally in May, the University hosts its annual AAPI Heritage Month in April so all campus members can join in honoring the histories, cultural diversity, identities and contributions of AAPI communities.

Two headshots of two people placed next to each other
Annie Chen (left) and Bettina Talento are two of the passionate student leaders who helped plan Syracuse University’s annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrations.

This year’s theme is “Harmony in Heritage,” celebrating the rich diversity found within AAPI communities while also highlighting the unity and shared experiences that bring these varied cultures together. Asian Americans trace their roots to over 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia, each with its own unique histories, languages beliefs and traditions. Pacific Islanders represent another ethnically diverse group with Indigenous peoples from Hawaii, Guam, Samoa and other Pacific islands and territories.

AAPI Planning Committee co-chairs Annie Chen ’25 and Bettina Talento ’25 say the month-long festivities are the perfect way to showcase their proud cultural heritage while emphasizing that the differing heritages serve to unite the AAPI community.

“Harmony in Heritage aims to pay homage to our heritage and the different traditions that have been passed down and subsequently shaped our cultures. It’s important to recognize and celebrate our heritage while also welcoming the present,” says Chen, who is studying psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences and plans on pursuing a career promoting mental health and well-being once she graduates.

“It means finding our middle ground among the diverse cultures in Asia and the Pacific islands, where we all can thrive in harmony,” adds Talento, a dual major in advertising in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and marketing management in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management who hopes to work in a role combining her passions for design and marketing.