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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month & STEM

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month (sometimes known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month) is an annual celebration of Americans with Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry. APAHM originated in 1977 with congressional bills from New York Representative Frank Horton, Japanese-American California Representative Norman Mineta, and Japanese-American Hawaiian Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga. The month of May was chosen to coincide with the first Japanese immigrants arriving in the United States in May of 1843, as well as the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May of 1869, which was built mostly by Chinese immigrants.

Though APAHM's roots may have been primarily inspired by the histories of East Asian Americans, this commemorative month has grown to encompass and embrace Asian and Pacific Islander Americans of all cultures and heritages. The scope of the phrase "Asian and Pacific Islander Americans" is truly vast: between East, Central, South, and Southeast Asia alone there are hundreds of cultures and histories; add in the thousands of islands in the Pacific with their own unique heritages and it's almost overwhelming. Allotting only one month out of the year in the United States to celebrate the thousands of cultures and ethnicities in this enormous region somehow does not seem like quite enough.

To narrow down an already huge topic as we celebrate APAHM, Science NetLinks will focus specifically on American individuals with Asian or Pacific Islander heritage and their connections and contributions to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Though many people are aware of or might even believe the stereotype that Asian people are naturally good at math and science, fewer, perhaps, might be able to name a prominent Pacific Islander-American scientist or a project designed by an Asian-American engineer.

Science NetLinks will cover topics like these and more, so stay tuned for more APAHM coverage throughout the month. In the meantime, check out the official Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month website, the blog of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the Smithsonian APAHM 2014 website. We look forward to celebrating Asian-Pacific American Hertitage Month with you.

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