INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – There are around 40 Asian nationalities represented in Indiana. If you’re ever interested in learning more about heritage, now is the time to learn: Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Members of the Asian community said the observation is not just about highlighting heritage, but hopefully to bridge cultural gaps between all communities. Sometimes that can happen through conversation, food, and so much more, and you can find it all in central Indiana.
Indiana is home to around 170,000 islanders in the Asia-Pacific region. Philip Smith was born in the Philippines and was taken into an American family.
“I know there are a lot of problems with discrimination and racism, but I think if you can raise someone you can tear those walls down,” said Smith.
He longed to learn his roots and found his birth family in 2010. that took him on a different path of discovery and opened the Philippines Cultural Community Center. It’s a safe place to bask in culture, from grocery clothes and more to taking language classes.
“There are a lot more Filipinos than we imagined.”
He said that growing up as an Asian in a white American family brought challenges. But it doesn’t have to be that way for other Asians. As more people immerse themselves in different cultures, they will see how much we are similar rather than different.
Rupal Thanawala said, “There are so many ways that it can be said that this is the month that I’ll take a moment to learn about different cultures and explore food.”
Thanawala is President of the Asian American Alliance. In a typical year, face-to-face events would allow people to experience and learn about the culture. But with the dozen of restaurants and places of worship in Indiana, these could be good starting points.
“This also sends a message to the community from which we are excluding this population as part of our community. Our neighbors are friends.”
The Philippines Cultural Community Center has a business bazaar every Saturday, and Visit Indy, the city’s tourism branch, has started a blog on Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Each week the scriptures highlight different Asians in the church who make a difference.