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Commissioner Morita drew attention to the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History Act (TEAACH Act). Illinois is poised to become the first state to require Asian American history in K-12 public schools. She said she believes the TEAACH Act will have a transformational impact on the advocacy and leadership of young people.
Soo La Kim, School District 65 Board Member, said she agreed. She did not see herself, as a Korean American, reflected in books and textbooks in her childhood in New York. “The school district, District 65, with the implementation of Black Lives Matter week and LGBTQ+ week has made great strides in reflecting a truer history of who we are. And the eventual plan is to have those lessons our educators have so thoughtfully put together integrated into the full curriculum – not to be separated out into separate weeks, but to be fully integrated,” she said. “I think that that will also be the case for Asian American history with the TEAACH act.”
Northwestern University senior Amy Yang spoke about her upbringing in California and Shanghai, China. A creative writing major specializing in non-fiction, she emphasized the role of ASAPIA groups engaging in cultural expression through theater and dance. ETHS Junior Sophie Yang touched on growing into her mixed Chinese and Japanese heritage. Then she added, “I’m so happy to stand today among these amazing leaders and excited to see real change like the TEAACH Act happening. And I’m so thankful for the Asian Heritage Alliance Club at school because it provides a space for students to discuss shared issues and topics, but also just to exist as who we are. And that space continues to be where I, and many of my peers, are finding our voices and exploring our identities with the guidance and wisdom of our wonderful staff sponsors.”
“I see myself reflected in faces and find stories I can relate to here,” said Ami Shah, a District 65 teacher of South Asian descent. “This festival brings a welcome exposure to Asian and South Asian cultures. It’s exciting and moving.”