Celebrate AANHPI Month With These Local Innovators

May 1, 2024

Related Topics:
In the Community,
Tech Partners

May marks an important time to celebrate the accomplishments of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the United States. 

This month, we’re highlighting the work of eight local innovators and organizations. 

Those familiar with San Jose, and even those who have flown into our international airport, have probably seen the name Norman Y. Mineta. A former San Jose mayor and cabinet secretary, Mineta is also known for his instrumental role in establishing Asian Pacific Heritage Week. In 1977, while serving as a U.S. Representative, Mineta co-introduced the resolution for the week, which was later designated as a heritage month.

Learn about the lives and work of the local community innovators highlighted for AANHPI month and try out some of the activities we have paired with each profile!

1. Chopsticks Alley Art

The San Jose organization Chopsticks Alley Art promotes Southeast Asian cultural heritage through the arts. They celebrate the cultural diversity of Southeast Asian contemporary art to foster greater understanding and connect communities. 

Chopsticks Alley Art is committed to serving people of color and immigrant communities through engaging art exhibitions, educational art classes, and culturally enriching events.

Learn more about their work by visiting their website: Chopsticks Alley Art 

Inspired to create art yourself? Try creating Japanese Mizuhiki Knots, an extension of our Algae String Activity developed by Corinne Takara.

2. Christa Cheung

Christa is an instructional designer who co-created The Tech Interactive and San José State University's shared computational thinking (CT) learning model. The model shows K-12 educators how to integrate computer science into their curriculum for any subject, from video games to language arts, history, science, and more. To date, this teaching model has impacted nearly 1,400 educators and more than 60,000 students.

Follow Christa’s work and read the Computer Science Education Principles that guide the CT model Christa helped develop

Interested in learning more about computational thinking? Check out The Tech’s videos, activities, and training resources.

3. Diya Kandhra

Diya Kandhra, a second-year UC Berkeley student majoring in Environmental Economics and Policy with minors in Data Science and Energy Resources, is a dedicated advocate for environmental and social justice. She avidly engaged in climate policy advocacy at the local, county, and state levels with Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action (SVYCA), and co-founded the Morgan Hill Youth Climate Action Team.

Learn more about the Morgan Hill Youth Climate Action Team’s projects and follow Diya’s work

Ready to advocate for an environmental cause? Check out our Planet Protectors activity and develop your own environmental public service announcement.

4. Norman Y. Mineta

Image Source: Portrait of Norman Y. Mineta at National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute

After he was imprisoned by the U.S. during World War II for his Japanese ancestry, Norman Y. Mineta went on to become the first Asian American to serve on a presidential Cabinet. Mineta also served as the mayor of San Jose for 4 years, and as a U.S. Representative for 20 years. He played a significant role in establishing Asian Pacific Heritage Week, which was later designated as a heritage month and first formally celebrated in May of 1979.

Watch the documentary on his legacy: https://www.minetalegacyproject.com/film

Curious about investigating political questions? Check out our Analyzing Patterns in Voter Data activity.

5. P.I.E.F.E.S.T. (Pacific Islanders Encouraging Fun, Engineering, Science, and Technology)

Pacific Islanders Encouraging Fun, Engineering, Science, and Technology (P.I.E.F.E.S.T.) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving Pacific Islander representation and increasing access to STEM-related careers. P.I.E.F.E.S.T. takes a culturally nurturing approach to designing and creating STEM experiences that spark interest, nurture curiosity, and are presented through a Pasifika lens.

Learn more at: www.wearepiefest.org 

Ready to dig deeper into representation in STEM? Check out our Scientist Stories videos and activity. 

6. Rod Hsiao

Rod is the CEO and Co-Founder of InPlay, a nonprofit that connects underserved students to summer and after school learning opportunities city-wide. Through their innovative parent apps, InPlay breaks down barriers to access and ignites students’ individual interests and talents.

Learn more about Rod’s work at InPlay and see over 14,000 San Jose region afterschool and summer programs at scc.inplay.org

Consider how to break down barriers and build inclusive play spaces in our Design for All: Project Playground activity

7. Tanvi Guttula

Tanvi Guttula, a fourth-year student at SJSU pursuing a BS in Computer Engineering, is passionate about using technology to make a positive impact. Inspired by her experiences and driven by empathy, Tanvi created Thera.py, an AI (artificial intelligence) platform designed to simplify therapy management.

Learn more about Tanvi’s work at: Thera.py 

Curious about artificial intelligence and other ways it can be used for good? Check out our AI resources at thetech.org/ai

8. Stop AAPI Hate

This national coalition, with roots in the Bay Area, began as a way for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to share their experiences with race-based hate and discrimination without divulging personal information or engaging with law enforcement. Since their founding in 2020, they have become the nation’s largest reporting center tracking anti-AAPI hate acts. Their data analysis and research informs their policy and advocacy work across the United States. In addition, they are working to build community capacity and drive narrative change by challenging harmful misconceptions about AAPI communities.

Learn more at: https://stopaapihate.org/ 

The Tech Interactive’s Community Advisory Committee is a key driver in improving cultural belonging across all facets of our work. The current inaugural Committee, supported by a grant from the California Natural Resources Agency, focuses on working together with Vietnamese and Latine community members to ensure their voices are integrated into our decision-making. 

Curious about learning more or getting involved? Email us at WeAreListening@thetech.org