By: Kaeli Patchen, DC Middle School Program Coordinator
As the month of May comes to a close, so does Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This month was a great time for DC’s Middle School youth to reflect, celebrate, and even lead programs connected to the AAPI community.
On Thursday, May 20th, DC had the opportunity to present on a topic of their choosing to the youth and staff of Deal Middle School. Throughout the month, we worked together during programs to decide on a topic, do research, compile and organize the presentation, and rehearse with this question in mind:
What is important for Deal youth to know about APAHM?
This slide depicts the process that DC MS youth used to create their presentation.
Eventually, the group decided to do a presentation about Model Minority Myth. This myth, which depicts members of the AAPI community as a “better” minority because of the way they are stereotypically viewed to be docile, intelligent, and quiet, was important for MS youth to share because of the way it affects their self perception and mental health. Together as a group, we decided on the objectives for their presentation, and then got to work divvying up the Google slides:
Below are two of the slides created by the youth from DC’s Middle School program
Finally, we were ready to present. On the morning of the 20th, DC MS AALEAD staff and two youth got the chance to share this presentation with over 300 youth and staff from Deal Middle School! The impact was clear; according to some of the youth audience members, Model Minority Myth was an issue they had heard of or even experienced before, but had never talked about in a classroom setting, and many teachers commented that the presentation contained a lot of useful information. By presenting to the youth and staff of Deal, AALEAD was able to make teachers more aware of Model Minority Myth and how to address it in the classroom or in their own behavior, and the AAPI youth in attendance may have been validated in their experience of this issue for the first time.
Additionally, we explained how this myth perpetuates the idea of the AAPI community as a monolith, and how this leads to more stereotyping and even violence. By introducing this myth to the Deal community, AALEAD youth and staff were able to help community members identify the ways they may have stereotyped in the past, and lead to a more nuanced understanding of the AAPI community.
Preparing and giving this presentation was clearly a worthwhile experience for DC MS youth as well. The following are quotes from the youth presenters:
“When [the presentation] happened it was quite scary, but I was able to do it. It was worth it though when I saw the interaction. Everyone was sharing their experience and I felt what we were doing was important.”
“It was pretty nerve-wracking but it was really fun and I loved all the interaction and all the stories about the Model Minority Myth. The slides were fun to make and everyone did well at responding in the chat. 10 out of 10 would do it again!”
Ultimately, this opportunity to present was an exciting way to hear from current AALEAD youth and to connect with other youth in the community, and it was also an important reminder that just because APAHM is over, that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to reflect and take action toward creating a better future for the AAPI community.