AAPI Association hosts event celebrating launch

Maven Navarro, Staff Reporter

The UA Asian American Pacific Islander Association hosted its official launch celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 7. The event included dinner, various speakers and cultural performances. The UA AAPI Association will offer educational opportunities for about AAPI culture, history, heritage and diversity.  

The goals of the organization include advocating policies to support members of the AAPI community, specifically UA faculty, support leadership, and collaborate with other affinity groups, such as the Black Faculty and Staff Association. 

The group started planning a launch at the University seven months ago, after discrimination against the Asian community increased 77% post COVID-19.   

“Initially, the motivation for this organization happened after the pandemic when there was a lot of Asian hate,” said Nahree Doh, AAPIA vice president and associate director of clinical and outreach services. “Some students and faculty were affected by that and we realized we probably need the organization to support our staff and help us voice our opinions.”  

The launch event featured cultural performances such as K-Pop dance, Japanese drums, Chinese traditional dance, Indian dance and Tae Kwon Do. 

“Our mission is to bring Korean culture to people around UA who might not know of it as well,” said Cierra Love, a member of K-Pop group, HallyUA, and a junior majoring in public relations said. “We also want to strive to build community within our own, and other partnerships and organizations here at UA.” 

The event also had culture tables that highlighted items and activities from Korean, Chinese, Indian and Japanese cultures. The Japanese table provided attendants with the experience to make their own contemporary Asian art, such as Japanese paintings.  

“We need all different types of perspectives and histories to be highlighted and learned from,” said Celeste Pfau, an MFA student studying studio art, who was running the Japanese table. “This is an immersive experience where you can use a Suni brush and India ink.” 

While the group will focus on faculty and students at the University, it will also branch out in supporting AAPI culture within the Tuscaloosa community and the Tuscaloosa City Schools.  

“When I look at the purpose of the organization enriching the student body in culture and education, that just speaks so highly of all to all of us,” said Mike Daria, superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools. “Our students and families benefit from what the organization is doing and what they’re about to do. We see the impact of the individuals that make up this organization, delivering opportunities and services, and enriching events for our students. 

In addition to the AAPI Association, the University has five other employee resource groups including Black Faculty and Staff Association, Capstone Alliance, Chinese Faculty and Staff Association, Jewish Faculty and Staff Association and Latinx Faculty and Staff Association.  

“We have a broad community at The University of Alabama and I could not be more thankful for every individual and every family that is around the tables tonight,” said UA President Stuart Bell. “We have a lot of work to do in all of our fields, and it starts with us in this room, making sure that we care for one another and that we meet the needs that each of us have.” 

In the city of Tuscaloosa, 2,490 residents, or 2.5% of the population, identifies as AAPI. At the University, 155 faculty members, or around eight percent, and over 600 students, or 3.4%, are part of the AAPI community. 

“Diversity makes us stronger,” said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. “Our background and our experiences can come to the table and make this community better. I am so encouraged to see faculty and students come together where they can make a difference, not only on the Capstone but in our community.”  

To view a gallery of photos from the event click here.