By Soyun Chow
Special to the Reporter
Mercer Island’s West Mercer Elementary School celebrated Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month with an assembly led by Mercer Island High School student junior Grace Go on May 24.
Sophomores Ariyana Dhaliwal and Amuthka Josyula participated in the assembly with a presentation and Indian dance performance. The Mak Fai group from Seattle’s Chinatown-International District were also there to perform a Chinese Lion Dance and Bench performance.
In Mercer Island School District (MISD) this year, 27% of students identify as Asian and 0.2% identify as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
Go, emcee for the assembly, is also a member of KMIH 88.9 The Bridge student-run radio station and co-founder of “Culture” magazine. After the assembly, she sat down with a group of first-graders and one of them asked her, “What ethnicity are you?”
She says, “I told them, ‘I’m Korean!’ Then, all around me, these first-graders started shouting out and proudly stating their ethnicities. A 7-year-old me never once proudly celebrated my cultural heritage the way the West Mercer Elementary schoolers did today. I knew in that moment that is why we must keep showing up for our community.”
During the assembly, West Mercer Principal Megan Isakson gave an overview of the history and contributions of AANHPIs and why this heritage month is celebrated in May. Isakson also recognized students who identify as AANHPI and said: “We are a vibrant community. We see you; we celebrate you, and we appreciate you today and every day in our school community.”