Seven Things to Try this AAPI Heritage Month

Prairie landscape with a long barracks-type building on the left, a water tower in the distance, and a guard tower in the near right.
Amache National Historic Site, a newly designated national park unit, was an incarceration site established by the War Relocation Authority during World War II to unjustly incarcerate Japanese Americans. Credit: US National Park Service.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month serves as an allegory for many Asian Americans as they ascertain their identities. Officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, public law 102-450 finally passed in 1992 after nearly 15 years of failed resolutions. Congress selected May as the official heritage month for Asian and Pacific Islanders to mark the anniversary of completing the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. This tribute also stands as a reminder to many Asian Americans that, with the completion of the railroad, many of our predecessors weren’t met with thanks or applause but with dismissal, anti-Asian sentiment, and segregation. It wasn’t until 2014 that work began on a memorial in honor of the Chinese railroad workers, which was finally completed in 2018.

Our struggle as Asian and Pacific Americans toward being understood and accepted is still ongoing. Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in hate crimes directed at people of Asian descent prompted by the COVID pandemic. Many people ask “What can I do to help?” and “How can I advocate for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders?” The best place to start is by educating yourself so that you can pass on your knowledge.

Included here is a curated collection of Asian American books, movies, and cultural contributions to help you learn a little bit more about the Asian and Pacific Americans around you. Give these selections a try this May and pass some along to your friends and family!

Asian American Movies

The Farewell (2019), Lulu Wang

An uplifting comedy that focuses on a Chinese-born individual who was raised in the US that reluctantly goes back to their hometown in China to visit the dying matriarch. Ironically, the matriarch is the only one who doesn’t know they have just a few weeks to live. The family comes together to throw a rushed wedding as a cloak over the real reason they are all congregating around the dying matriarch.

Minari (2021), Lee Isaac Chung

This movie follows a Korean American family in search of their very own American Dream, which takes them to a sleepy Arkansas farm. The dynamic within the house changes as a sassy, foul-mouthed but loving grandmother joins and adds just a little bit more instability to the already rocky household. In the end this situation drives home the idea that home is family.

Asian American Books

Pachinko, Min Jin Lee

Based in Harlem, author and journalist Min Jin Lee wrote an epic historical fiction novel following a Korean family who immigrate to Japan. The book is broken down into three sections that spans roughly 70 years of life and showcases the hardship of immigrating between countries and integrating into the norms of the new society. But at what cost? Diasporic severance?

Last Boat out of Shanghai*, Helen Zia

This book brings to life the story of four young people caught in the middle of the communist revolution in 1949. This book is a sharp reminder that history happens to everyday people just like us.

Beasts of a Little Land*, Juhea Kim

This book tells a story built around love, war and redemption, centered around a young woman sold into a life as a courtesan and the broke son of a hunter, set during the Korean independence movement against Japan.

*Available in the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) featured reads display on the main floor of the Van Pelt and Opie Library. Check out these additional resources curated by SASE!

Asian American Monument

Amache National Historic Site, Granada, CO

Also known as the Granada Relocation Center or Camp Amache, Amanche National Historic Site was just one of ten centers created during World War II to intern Japanese Americans and those of Japanese descent. More than 10,000 people lived in this camp and over 70% of those who lived there were US citizens.

Asian American Recipe

Soy Sauce Chicken with Cola, Tim Chin

A Cantonese dish that traditionally blends medicinal ingredients and hard to find Chinese rose wine, finds a rather common western alternative…coke!


For the poaching liquid:
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 large shallot (50g), thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 pieces whole star anise
  • One 2-inch cinnamon stick, smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 cups (710ml) Coca-Cola (two 12-ounce cans)
  • 1 3/4 cups (420ml) dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup (240ml) water
  • 3/4 cup (175ml) honey
  • 2 scallions, cut into 3-inch pieces and lightly smashed
For the chicken:
  • One 3 1/2- to 4-pound (1.6 to 1.8kg) chicken, backbone removed, and chicken cut in half lengthwise through breastbone
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Chinese rose wine or Shaoxing wine, divided (see note)


  1. For the Chicken: Using clean hands, rub salt generously over chicken skin to remove any rough imperfections. Using a brush, brush 2 tablespoons (30ml) wine over surface of chicken. Set aside.
  2. For the Poaching Liquid: In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shallot, garlic, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in white pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Stir in Coca-Cola, soy sauce, water, honey, and scallions. Bring mixture to boil, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until bubbling subsides, about 15 minutes.
  3. To Poach: Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) wine. Gently lower chicken in pot, breast-side up, and return to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and carefully flip chicken breast-side down. Cover and simmer 10 minutes longer. Turn off heat and let chicken stand, covered, until thickest part of breast registers 150°F and legs register 165°F, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken, breast-side-up, to serving platter, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: Mei kuei lu chiew is a Chinese rose wine that works particularly well in this dish, as it complements and amplifies the floral notes in the soda. If you can’t find it, Shaoxing wine is a perfectly serviceable substitute. Both can be found at Chinese markets or online. Credit: Serious Eats

Regardless of what month it is or what national heritage awareness campaign is ongoing, embark each day on a new journey with an open mind and be willing to try new things. Learn something new about a culture that isn’t your own. Don’t be afraid to embrace something different—it may just become your new favorite!


Timothy D. Raymond

M.S. Student
Applied Cognitive Sciences and Human Factors

Liz Fujita

Academic Advisor and Outreach Specialist
Electrical and Computer Engineering