Westfield State University to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Mar 31, 2021
The globe sculpture on the campus green with the Ely Campus Center in the background

Westfield State University (WSU) will host a slate of events throughout April to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month. The observance will include lectures, a faculty discussion panel, and film screenings, among other events.

“WSU Education Department (WE) Anti-Racism Education (ARE) Project: Truth in History, Positionality, and Solidarity in Practice: A Leadership Dialogue with President Saigo”
Monday, April 5, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
Westfield State University Interim President Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.—a Japanese American internment camp survivor during World War II—will deliver a talk about his experiences. View event press release

“DIY Desktop Zen Garden”
Tuesday, April 20, 8 p.m.
Sign-up in advance to receive a kit of materials to create a desktop Zen Garden of your own. During the event, discussions will focus on the cultural significance of a Zen Garden and the implications of their creation.
Sponsored by: University’s Office of Student Activities, Involvement, and Leadership (SAIL)

Faculty Discussion Panel
Tuesday, April 20, 12:30–2 p.m.

In the wake of the recent waves of anti-Asian violence in the U.S., a panel of faculty will speak who are known for their scholarship regarding Asian Americans and/or teach courses for the Asian studies minor at Westfield State.

  • Brian Chen, Ph.D., associate professor of English, on: “Vincent Chin and the Rise of Asian American Activism”; 
  • Tian-jia Dong, Ph.D., professor of sociology, on: “International Students in Search of the American Dream”;
  • Shoba Sharad Rajgopal, Ph.D., professor of ethnic & gender studies, on: “South Asians & the Asian American Paradigm in Racial Justice”;
  • Roy Saigo, Ph.D., interim president, Westfield State University, on: “But we are Americans”;
  • Makoto “Max” Saito, Ph.D., associate professor of communication, on: “Dialogic Interplay of Public Self and Private Self (Maintaining Harmony in Asian American Communities)”; and  
  • Kevin Tatsugawa, Ph.D., associate professor of movement science, sport & leisure studies, on: “Anti-Asian Violence in the U.S. in the COVID Era.”

“She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms” by Qui Nguyen
Wednesday, April 21–Saturday, April 24, 8 p.m., and matinee Saturday, April 24 at 2 p.m.
Directed by Eric Parness, assistant professor of theater arts, She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms is a high-octane, dramatic comedy about the world of fantasy role-playing games, and is a heart-pounding homage to the geek and warrior within us. Ticket and event info.

“Zoom, its Founder and the Spirit of the Company: A Case Study” 
Monday, April 26, 11–11:50 a.m.
Zoom has become another Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, in a new era. As we use it every day, we are amazed by its sensational success. What is the spiritual power behind the company? What’s the societal construction that has enabled this spirit? This case study sets out to answer the questions by focusing on the life of the company’s founder and CEO, Eric Yuan. It further reveals our embracing way of life as our nation gathers its strength by being inclusive and open. Tian-jia Dong, Ph.D., Westfield State associate professor of sociology, will host this event. 

Film Screening of “Ulam: Main Dish”
Thursday, April 29, 5–6:30 p.m.

ULAM: Main Dish (2018) is the first Filipino food documentary following the rise of the Filipino food movement via the chefs crossing over to the center of the American table. Brian Chen, Ph.D., Westfield State associate professor of English, will host the event.

“Chinese American Communities in Global Cities”
Friday, April 30, 5–6:30 p.m.

A panel of three Westfield State University students will present their projects conducted for the honors seminar on “Chinatown,” moderated by Brian Chen, Ph.D., associate professor of English.


  • Lisha Lopez, a junior from Springfield double majoring in elementary education and Spanish, on: “Cultural Fusion: El Barrio Chino”;
  • Maninder Singh, a senior from Northampton double majoring in environmental science and regional planning, on: “Disappearing Chinese Community in Kolkata”; and
  • Audrey Therriault, a senior from Haverhill majoring in English, on: “An Analysis of Australia’s Chinatowns with a Focus on Feminism.”

For more information about the April events, visit www.westfield.ma.edu/aapi. This year’s events were organized by Drs. Chen and Rajgopal.