Asian-American Allies club celebrates a historical month


Corinne Piorkowski

SPREADING ACCEPTANCE: Seniors Vanessa Nguyen and Kelly Matthews spend their morning designing posters to celebrate Asian-History month. Nguyen organizes the AAA and pushes her members to join her in celebration of their culture.

Lucille Price, Review Editor

It was a normal day in fourth grade. 

Senior Vanessa Nguyen was excited to eat her traditional Vietnamese fish and cooked salmon her father had prepared for her.

When she opened her box, she received a different reaction from her classmates, who questioned the fish’s odor and color. What was a seemingly normal day in fourth grade turned into an embarrassing and defining moment in Nguyen’s relationship with her Vietnamese culture from a young age.

“Since I was young, my parents taught me to embrace my culture,” Nguyen said. “However, attending predominantly white schools since I was little left me battling with how others perceive me. In the past, I felt the need to conform to American culture and resent my Vietnamese heritage.”

The month of May nationally celebrates Pacific-Islander and Asian-American heritage. Specifically at Bowie, the Asian-American Ally Club (AAA) honors and celebrates the students’ difference of backgrounds and individuality.

“My personal struggles and ability to share with my peers encouraged me to start the Asian-American and Ally club with a group of Asian students,” Nguyen said. “So far, I think we want to make some announcements and hope to host a F.I.T. with games and make posters around the school.”

Junior Tommy Morales, as another Asian-American student and first generation Asian-American, believes that this month celebrating his heritage will be beneficial to students trying to embrace their culture more publicly.

“I embrace that I am different from most Americans because I have two different cultures, being born in China,” Morales said. “This month is going to mean a lot to me because I do struggle with stereotypes, and I want the culture I was born into to be recognized and celebrated more than I feel it usually is.”

The month commemorates immigration of the first Japanese person to the United States on May 7, 1843. As a sponsor of the AAA club, counselor April Giuffre is able to dive into what being a second generation American means to her.

 “I am the daughter of Filipino immigrants and I am proud to represent my culture in the United States and just kind of break any stereotypes,” Giuffre said. “I was completely raised here and I’ve been back to the Philippines, but I think it’s pretty awesome that my parents made a life here.”

According to the Texas Tribune, Bowie’s population of Asian-American students is only 5.8% and 57.9% of the campus consisting of white students. Despite the difference in these numbers, Nguyen has found comfort in fellow Asian-American students in the Bowie community whom she connects with.

“My experience in middle school drew hostility between my conflicting cultures; however, my transition to high school evolved my true identity as I met friends that experienced the same microaggressions as I did,” Nguyen said. 

Nguyen still faces discrimination and microaggressions, but continues to grow in accepting her identity and both cultures, she is not alone on campus, as Giuffre has experienced similar beliefs in her upbringing. 

“I don’t think I fully embraced my culture until I was an adult,” Giuffre said. “I think I started really appreciating that I just came from a different household.”

For Morales, celebrating Asian American holidays helps him to better embrace his own Asian American culture. 

“For Chinese New Year, my family and I all hang out and celebrate and light fireworks, lots of fireworks,” Morales said. “This celebration allows me to see my culture in a positive light and bond with my family.”

Even as an adult, Giuffre has continued to experience an increase in discrimination recently and hopes that Asian American History Month will allow students to gain a broader perspective and altogether newfound respect for Asian American culture.

“Recently there has been a lot of hate crimes and seemingly more open discrimination against Asians,” Giuffre said. “I’d love for students to be willing to speak up for others and drive out that hate.”

Overall the AAA club is optimistic that Asian American History month will increase the campus’s awareness surrounding their culture and continues to proudly share their culture with the communities surrounding them.

“I’m very thankful that I am able to share the community’s history, pain, joy and help pay homage to my ancestors and trailblazers to help amplify voices in the AAPI movement,” Nguyen said.