In light of Covid-19, Asian American communities have faced an uptick in violence, as they are blamed for the spread of the virus. Former President Trump used xenophobic rhetoric by constantly referring to it as the “China virus” or the “Kung Flu,” causing people to associate the disease with Asian people. This triggered a wave of racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans. Ridgewood High School students took matters into their own hands to combat this issue. RHS Juniors Lauren Shin, Carina D’Angelo, and Shriya Dani started Educate to Eradicate: AAPI Hate to “spread awareness about the uptick in Asian hate crimes since the pandemic through educating young students that AAPI culture should be celebrated, not degraded.” They believed that they could have the most impact on younger students because their current elementary education system did not include any curriculum plan that educated them on different Asian cultures.
On December 6th, the organization’s leaders and volunteers went to Ridge Elementary School to present the cultures of Philippines, India, South Korea, Japan, and China. Shriya Dani said they “highlighted different parts of each country’s culture- food, music, dance, art, games, clothing, folk tales, holidays, etc.” They did so through presenting trifolds with information about the country and through doing interactive activities that would keep the fifth graders engaged and excited to learn. For the Philippines the students did limbo with a tinikiling stick (traditional Phillipines dancing stick), for India they learned to dance with dandiya sticks, for China they drew Chinese dragons with rainbow scratch paper, for Japan they made origami hearts, and for South Korea they crafted Korean drums out of paper plates.
Altogether, this allowed for elementary school students to gain exposure to cultures that may not be heavily represented in Ridgewood. Thanks to the volunteers and Educate to Eradicate: AAPI Hate leaders, the elementary students were able to have fun while simultaneously learning and respecting various Asian cultures.
Graphic: Sam Cohen