New club gives voice to Asian-American Students


Alex Clark

API Unite members Nico Adriano and Danielle Lam sell candy grams to fundraise for the Lunar New Year.

Started on Nov. 13 2021, Asian Pacific Islanders Unite is a new club at LHS dedicated to raising cultural awareness. The goal of the organization is to empower Asians and Pacific Islanders through education, celebration and advocacy.

API Unite focuses on connecting Asian-American students with their heritage while also encouraging LHS to collectively face issues relevant to Asian-American community. Junior Sam Chen, founder of API, explained, “In light of the rising rates of Asian violence, hate crimes, microaggressions and racism, this organization was formed to hopefully empower the youth and other individuals about the Asian-American experiences and hopes to prevent future Asian based racism.”

Anyone is welcome to attend API Unite meetings, which are held every other Thursday in room 223 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. Twins Ellie and Melody Chen, along with Sarah Wuh (a DOI Staff Member) help head the meetings with Sam Chen. The meetings have included activities such as playing Mahjong, a game with tiles that originated in China; creating a spotify playlist featuring API Unite artists and the decoration of LHS’s halls celebrating Lunar New Year.

“It’s really nice just seeing everyone while we’re doing club bonding activities having fun and being open and free about their expression, because it serves as a club [and] also as a safe space for all individuals,” said Sam Chen.

Additionally, to address and combat Asian-American and Pacific Islander stereotypes, informational presentations are given every meeting by the leadership team.

“I wanted to focus on helping to enrich the LHS community and the greater community about education about Asian Americans and continue to raise awareness about how our experiences are unique experiences,” stated Sam Chen. “It is a sad reality that there’s still Asian Americans being killed today.”

Sam Chen, Melody Chen, DOI staff member Sarah Wuh and Ellie Chen celebrate the Lunar New Year Fundraiser Success. API Unite made a total of $309 during the fundraiser. (Alex Clark)

Club participation has nearly doubled in size since the club’s start, from 15 to 29 people. As the club sponsor alongside Mr. Paul Lecaroz, Ms. Sarah Greenswag has helped with the club’s development from the beginning.

“The mission of the club is to build community first and foremost among Asian-American students at LHS,” Ms. Greenswag said. “And I think the longer term goals are around raising awareness and activism, [and] taking a stance on certain issues and promoting fundraisers to help organizations that support Asian Americans.”

As well as providing a means for students to tackle prevalent social issues, API Unite also allows students to come together and be themselves without judgment.

“Anytime we can create a place and a way for kids to get to know each other and see other kids who are going through similar things that they are, it’s healthy for the kids that might want to be involved,” Ms. Greenswag said. “I have heard kids say, I made so many new friends at API Unite. I’ve met so many people like me. And I think that that’s so affirming and huge.”

So far, the club has successfully brought together the API Unite community to bond and celebrate their culture.

Melody Chen stated, “I think it’s a great opportunity, not just for me, but also for everyone else to come together because in my experience, I haven’t really met a lot of people from the same culture as me and have the same traditions and heritage as I do.”

In the future, Sam Chen hopes the organization leaves a legacy that continues to celebrate diversity and create safe spaces in the LHS community.

“I want to continue to keep this movement of Asian American empowerment and solidarity and unity and make sure that I can educate everyone as much as I possibly can about these issues,”  Sam Chen explained. “I know there’s still [negative] experiences at LHS that go under the radar… So I just know we can always do better and I hope this club can help.”