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A Message from WIU President Guiyou Huang: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 3, 2021

Dear University Community,

May is celebrated as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States to recognize how individuals of Asian and Pacific American descent have enriched and shaped America's history.

The first documented Asians arrived in the United States in 1587, when individuals from the Philippines arrived in California, followed throughout the years by individuals from China, Japan, India, and more. At WIU, our first international students – six male students from the Philippines – enrolled in 1905. In June 1977, the first 10 days of May were first celebrated as Asian-Pacific Week, as that was the month the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the U.S. in May 1843. Former president George H.W. Bush signed a bill in 1990 to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

Examples of contributions made by Asian American and Pacific Islanders in U.S. history include the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 19th century, which employed thousands of Chinese workers along with Irish and other ethnicities. In the mid-20th century, the formation of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, which became best known as the most decorated unit for its size in U.S. military history, was composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei) who fought in World War II, despite the incarceration of many of their families in internment camps on the west coast, while they fought abroad.

I extend my appreciation to our Asian American and Pacific Islander students, faculty, and staff at WIU, as well as our international students from Asian and Pacific countries, for your many contributions to our University's diversity and continued success.

Guiyou Huang, Ph.D.

Posted By: WIU News, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606