It all started last year, when Julianna Loretto and Medina Lam were sitting in class. They were receiving a presentation on the Chicanx/Latinx history class offered at Berkeley High School (BHS) when they texted each other, noting that no similar class was available for Asian American students. and Pacific Islander (AAPI). So, Loretto and Lam decided to create one themselves.
“In the wake [of] hate crimes against Asian Americans, it seemed like more needed to be done,” said Lam, a junior at Academic Choice (AC). “Something I noticed, [and] I think many other Asian American students were acutely aware of this is that there was no representation of Asian students at BHS, [whereas] there are [for] other races, and it is important that everyone is represented.
At BHS, there are currently no courses specifically geared towards the AAPI community. Sakiko Muranaka, an English teacher at Berkeley International High School (BIHS), helped write an AAPI literature course that will be offered next year. “One of the main objectives of this course was to [it relevant] to our AAPI experiences… while linking the contemporary context [in] the history of AAPI in America and kind of looking at those connections through the literature,” Muranaka said.
Le Tran, a social studies professor at BHS, is another founder of this class, helping to plan and design the course materials. “This course is a direct response to requests from students and staff for more AAPI-related topics [to] be taught at BHS. We recognize the need to expand our study of AAPI experiences and knowledge,” Tran said.
“Part of the intent behind this course is that we want to focus on the histories, experiences and cultures of AAPI subjects beyond what is typically covered in general eleventh and twelfth grade humanities courses” , added Tran.
In history classes, most BHS students only learn about Chinese migrant workers, Japanese internment, and Vietnam’s struggles against imperialism. The new course would provide an opportunity to deepen the different perspectives of AAPI and create a community between students and teachers.
Muranaka is thrilled with the new class, and the happy students will be able to experience something she never had the chance to experience at her high school. “I didn’t really have any Asian American teachers. … I may remember one, but I didn’t really have any teachers who looked like me. In history, [we] touched on some aspects of Asian American history, but very briefly,” she said.
Loretto said she was happy that BHS students had the chance to learn more about AAPI literature. “It’s not something that was offered to me, and my knowledge of Asian history kind of stops at the gold rush,” she said.
According to Time, there are 22 million Asians in the United States, and according to the Census Bureau, California’s Asian population has increased by 25% over the past decade, making it the fastest growing ethnic population. fastest in the state.
Loretto also hoped the course would allow people to learn how Asian history relates to current events and the racism behind the COVID-19 pandemic. “I hope that…not just Asian students take the course, everybody takes it, because it’s not exclusively for Asians and I want people to be educated about it,” Loretto said.
“It’s something that’s largely not represented in the curriculum,” Lam said, speaking about AAPI history and literature. “It felt like something that I wanted to be able to learn about my own culture and history on a more personal level or related to who I am.” She hopes the class will create a sense of community and a place where everyone can learn about their own culture or different cultures that have not yet been widely taught.