Skip to content

Celebrating Asian Heritage at Upper Iowa University

In the United States May is designated as Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month. However, to accommodate for the academic year, Upper Iowa will begin celebrating the culture, traditions and long history of contributions and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States beginning mid-April into May.

History Celebration

In 1978, Congress passed a joint Congressional Resolution to commemorate Asian American Heritage Week during the first week of May because of two important anniversaries. First, the arrival of the first known Japanese immigrant to the U.S. on May 7, 1843; secondly, the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, which upwards of 20,000 Chinese workers helped to construct. It was not until 1990 that the observance was expanded to a month. The month pays tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched the United States’ history and are instrumental in its future success.

Upper Iowa has a long history of recruiting students from Asia and the Pacific Islands. While the first international student to attend Upper Iowa University in 1872 was from Dublin, Ireland, the next three international students were all from Japan:

  • Jay Kono attended UIU from 1890-1892.  While he was here, he also lectured and wrote an article in the Collegian student newspaper about the development of Japanese Schools.
  • Peter Goro Kaburagi from Chibaken, Japan graduated from UIU in 1895, then earned his Master’s degree here in 1899.  While he was here, he taught the UIU students about Japan in entertaining ways, and after graduation traveled and continued to lecture until he settled down in Vancouver, Canada.  He served as Superintendent of Japanese Missions in British Columbia; was owner and president of the Japanese Daily News; Principal of Vancouver Anglo-Japanese Ladies School; author of several articles on travel, social, and religious subjects; lecturer on Japan and Missionary work in Canada and Japan.  He also traveled to Japan, China, Manchuria, and Korea.
  • Kataoka, Saul from Takusima, Japan graduated from UIU in 1899. In 1895, Mr. Kaburagi and Kataoka provided in Oriental Tea sponsored by the Y. W. C. A.  Rugs were spread around the dining room and tea served in true Oriental style.  For entertainment, Mr. Kaburagi read people’s fortunes, and Mr. Kataoka provided music and a reading.  Mr. Kataoka was active at UIU, including participating in several elocution recitals.  After UIU, he graduated from Drew Theological Seminary, then returned to Japan to preach. He was reported to have been killed in the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) in which the Chinese rebelled against foreigners and Christians.

Thank you to the Multicultural subcommittee, a subcommittee of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Interested in serving on next year’s planning committee? Please contact the Assistant Vice President for Student Life, Danielle Rosario Cushion, at [email protected]

Campus Celebrations

Scheduled Events (All times CST)

April 5th 12:10pm CST via Zoom – Lunch & Learn: Countering Stereotypes

Did you know that Asian Americans report less discrimination in employment, housing and criminal justice compared with other racial minorities in the United States. But they often fall victim to a unique set of stereotypes—including the false belief that all Asian Americans are successful and well adapted—that render them invisible in discussions of race and prejudice in America. (Source: Countering stereotypes about Asian Americans)

Listen to panelists talk about their experiences. Panelists are:

  • Dr. Shilpashri Karbhari, Assistant Professor (Criminal Justice), Upper Iowa University
  • Dr. Mutiara Mohamed, Director of Programs in Language, Culture, and Professional Advancement (PLCPA), Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Sasha Zainal, Assistant Director of International and Off-Campus Programs, Augustana College & UIU Alum

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Or One tap mobile :
US: +16465588656,,85338283909# or +13017158592,,85338283909#
Or Telephone:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799
Webinar ID: 853 3828 3909
International numbers available:

April 11th 5:00pm – 7:00pm CST in the Student Center- Craft Night: Learn how to make Origami

Student Activities Staff will help students make different origami pieces including: cranes, peacocks, hearts, flowers, etc. Watch this tutorial to learn how to make a lotus flower if you cannot make the craft night!

April 12th 12:10pm CST via Zoom – Lunch & Learn: Storytelling and Stereotypes

Storytelling and Stereotypes: Asian American and Pacific Islander Month at Upper Iowa University and in Fayette – Storytelling can help dispel stereotypes that surround an ethnic group. Listen, Lunch, and Learn about stories told by people with the UIU and Fayette Libraries about Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in history, including in Fayette and at Upper Iowa University.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 890 3472 0717
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,89034720717# US (Washington DC)
+13126266799,,89034720717# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 890 3472 0717
Find your local number:

April 18th 12:10pm CST via Zoom – Lunch & Learn: Celebrating AAPI Ordinary & Extraordinary Success Stories

In conjunction with the official theme for the observance of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year: “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration”, we are celebrating AAPI individuals’ (leaders’ in their respective fields/areas) aspiring and motivating stories, perspectives and moments that feel both ordinary and extraordinary.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Or One tap mobile :
US: +16465588656,,84571037287# or +13017158592,,84571037287#
Or Telephone:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799
Webinar ID: 845 7103 7287
International numbers available:

April 21st 3:00pm CST – Student Center Servery - International Coffee Hour (Filipino recipe)

The recipe served at the Fayette Campus was submitted by UIU Student Guin Calpito.

April 21st 3:00pm CST – Grace Meyer Square - Holi Festival Color Fun Run

Registration is in Grace Meyer Square. Participants will run 1 mile around campus and end at the Victory Gate. Free to register and prizes for 1st male and 1st female.

Come outside for a fun run and celebrate the Festival of Colors! Get showered in a rainbow of colored powders symbolizing energy, life, and joy as you run or walk your mile to the finish line!

Holi is a Hindu spring festival, that falls in the months of February or March, which originated in the subcontinent of India and is celebrated across the world. Often called the “Festival of Colors,” and the “Festival of Sharing and Love,” there are several legends about the origin of why Holi is celebrated. The timing of Holi, is synchronized with the moon, which means that the actual dates vary from year to year. This year Holi was observed on sundown of March 17th ending at sundown of March 18th. Learn more about Hindus and Hinduism – Hindu American Foundation.

April 28th 7:00pm CST Teleparty – Finding ‘Ohana

Released in 2021, this film is starring Kea Peahu, Lindsay Watson, and Kelly Hu

A summer in rural Oahu takes an exciting turn for two Brooklyn-raised siblings when a journal pointing to long-lost treasure sets them on an epic adventure with new friends, and leads them to reconnect with their Hawaiian heritage.

Email Shannon Nix at [email protected] for the link. The link will be emailed to you the day of.

TED Talks: I Am Not Your Asian Stereotype a Ted Talk by 18- year old Canwen Xu

Bad driver. Math wizard. Model minority. In this hilarious and insightful talk, eighteen-year-old Canwen Xu shares her Asian-American story of breaking stereotypes, reaffirming stereotypes, and driving competently on her way to buy rice. Canwen Xu’s slogan for life is “Canwen can win.” Born in Nanjing, China, she moved to the United States when she was two years old, and since then has lived in some of the whitest states in the country, including North Dakota, South Dakota and Idaho. A senior at Timberline High School, Canwen is passionate about politics, and is the national membership director and Idaho state director for the Young Democrats High School Caucus. Also a programmer, she started an all-girls computer science workshop called Code For Fun and received National Runner-Up in the 2014 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing competition.

SPOTLIGHT - International Student Association (ISA)

Students from different nations and cultural background come together to create integration among international students of all races and the university community, as well as to assist the students in the transition into American culture.

By organizing this association, we hope to fill gaps between all international students, no matter the country of origin. As an organization we focus on the educational, cultural, and social aspects of university life in order to serve as a connection between International and American Students.

ISA strives to promote and improve international students’ ability to adjust to American life and also to establish an advanced communication channel between the countries.

Speaker Bios

Jesica Yap

Jesica Yap is a Hollywood composer for the visual media, a music producer, a pianist and a teacher residing in Los Angeles, California.

  • Jesica YapJanuary 30, 2022, at the Music International Grand Prix – Jesica won the California Semifinals 1st place in Ensembles category playing piano duo with her sister, Juliana Yap under the name JJ Dua.
  • January 27, 2022, at the Global Music Awards – Jesica was awarded two bronze medals from the well-known international competition for her song “Shine Your Light.”
    November 05, 2021, at the Hollywood in Media Awards – Jesica was nominated for the HMMA (Hollywood in Media awards) in the New Age/ Ambient category for her piano composition titled “The Journey.”
  • On September 16, 2021, at the Global Music Awards – Jesica received two bronze medals from the well-known international competition for her song “Six Feet Apart.”
  • In 2019, at the Hollywood in Media Awards she won her second HMMA (Hollywood Music and Media Awards), and
    In 2018, at the Hollywood in Media Awards she was nominated for a Jerry Goldsmith Awards and won her first HMMA.

Read more about Jesica Yap.

Kumaar Family

The Kumaar FamilyThe Kummar family is inspiring thousands via their Vblog with almost 270 thousand subscribers on YouTube.

Logesh Kumaar and his wife Rachel started their own YouTube channel just a little over a year ago and shared their family’s “cultural adventures”.

Logesh’s efforts (often times hilarious and admirable!) in sharing his Malaysian culture with Rachel, an American, quickly won them favorable reactions from viewers; some went viral almost instantly.

The couple stresses the value of being grounded in culture, and viewers are delighted in their cross-cultural efforts and in trying to integrate values from both the American and Malaysian cultures in bringing up their two sons, adorably nicknamed Zay-Zay (Zaden Kumaar) and Kay-Kay (Kyren Kumaar).

Check out the Kumaar family on their YouTube channel.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Support Resources

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (tool for reporting hate incidents)

Stop AAPI Hate (tool for reporting hate incidents)

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), which focuses on public policy analysis, advocacy and community building.

The National Federation for Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), which develops young leaders, urges political participation and supports small businesses.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), which promotes visibility and provides education and tools to tackle homophobia and racism.

The Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF), a media and educational organization that promotes civic and political participation.

Empowered Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), which seeks to empower Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities through advocacy and research.

The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, which helps provide affordable care, translated resources and cultural competency for professionals.

Send Chinatown Love, which supports restaurants, many of which are immigrant-run and cash-only and so were rejected for government aid.

Detox Local – An extensive list of mental health and substance use resources specifically for the AAPI community.



UIU Library Resources
on Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Diversity