Asian American Culture Club partners with Make Us Visible


By Jeffrey Heng, Staff Reporter

On Sept. 27, 2021, Pennsylvania Rep. Patty Kim introduced the Asian American and Pacific Islanders History Inclusion Act as H.B. 1917. The bill calls for inclusivity of AAPI history in Pennsylvania’s schools.

Make Us Visible is a nationwide initiative that advocates for the integration and awareness of AAPI contributions, cultures and histories in K-12 classrooms. Two parents and a teacher established MUV in January 2021 due to an increase in anti-Asian American violence, and have since worked with legislators in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut to pass bills requiring the inclusion of AAPI history in K-12 schools.

H.B. 1917 was referred to the Education Committee in Harrisburg but expired by the end of the 2021-22 legislative session. Kenneth Hong, co-director of Pennsylvania’s branch, MUVPA, tried to negotiate with local legislators via postcards to help reintroduce the bill.

“The response rate on hearing back from the legislators (has) been low,” Hong said. “But, we have heard from three or four legislators across the couple of hundred postcards that we’ve sent. We see that as just one phase of a multi-prong approach into raising awareness. We’re hoping to grab their attention and hopefully get some responses and meetings with them.”

In January 2023, Kim circulated a co-sponsorship memorandum to propose the act again. The document informed legislators about the need for legislation and allowed them to sign as co-sponsors.

On March 30, Kim reintroduced the act as H.B. 779 after gaining enough support from fellow legislators. Prior to the reintroduction of the act, MUV directors collaborated with several organizations, such as the Main Line Chinese Culture Center, to garner support. Similarly, the Asian American Culture Club has been able to get in contact with MUV officials to participate in their campaign.

“We’re hopeful we can start doing more things with Conestoga. I’ve met with the curriculum district officers, and it sounds like there’s great plans for implementing more inclusive Asian American content into all grade levels. We hope we can support that (and) make that a reality,” Hong said.

Conestoga’s Asian American Culture Club sponsored Hong in February as a guest speaker, who worked with club members to create postcards to send to state representatives and spread awareness of AAPI advocacy.

“I think working with Make Us Visible gives students that idea of what’s out there,” AACC club adviser and history teacher Stephanie Matula said. “We have a growing Asian American population, and it’s important there is representation and visibility in curriculum. (I’m) hoping that in the future we can try to make different steps in Conestoga to have a wider array of representation.”

The AACC plans to have more cultural activities throughout April in preparation for AAPI Heritage Month in May, including a spirit week, bake sale and guest presentation. Hong believes that normalizing the presence of Asian American culture in the community is an important cause.

“A lot of times, it’s easy to think about the history side of things,” Hong said. “But there’s a lot of areas where it’s important to say, ‘Hey, Asian Americans have been making contributions in a lot of different areas to my country,’ and I think that it gives our Asian American students a greater sense of identity and belonging in the country.”

Jeffrey Heng can be reached at [email protected].