Exciting things are happening in Washington State. Last May Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5000 into effect, a bill designating January as Americans of Chinese Descent History Month.
“The bill encourages schools to dedicate time to explore the lives, history, and achievements of individuals of Chinese descent since the founding of the state,” says Chen Tang, World Languages Faculty, and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Affinity leader. “This is a very significant opportunity for the Americans of Chinese descent to have this special month every year to acknowledge the history and contributions that the Chinese community have had in American society.”
Overlake is excited to join in the first annual observation of this month. Last week the AAPI Affinity hosted an event celebrating the month through the Laba Festival, which happens on the 12th month and eighth day of the Lunar calendar and happens to fall in the month of January. During the event they served Laba Congee, a sweet mix of grains, beans, fruits, and nuts. This festival focuses on expressing kindness, love, and giving. Also at the event were posters and pamphlets sharing information about Chinese American’s contributions throughout history for students and adults to learn from.
The display included posters designed by students as well. The organization, Washington State Asians for Equity held a Chinese American History poster design competition for students, and winners from the contests had their posters submitted to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for use in schools statewide. Two Overlake students, Ellie Y. (’25), and Julinna W. (‘26) submitted several posters that were eventually chosen and are now being circulated for public use. You can view theirs and other student designed posters here.
Since this month will be celebrated every January, students and adults are excited to learn and brainstorm more about how they will celebrate the month in the future and share with the community. “They (the students) were very happy to learn that their identity and culture is going to be recognized and acknowledged,” Tang says. “I think this is just the start.”
The library has also made a display sharing some of the student posters and other information about the Americans of Chinese Descent History month. Stop by and see some of the posters in person and learn more about this exciting new month. And although January is coming to a close, the celebrations are just beginning. In just a couple of weeks the community can look forward to a celebration of the Lunar new year including calligraphy lessons and the ever popular dragon dancing!