LIVINGSTON, NJ — In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, 15 members of the Livingston High School (LHS) Filipino Club, Chinese Culture Club and Chinese Honor Society recently led a special event for students at Hillside Elementary School, where students in Kindergarten through fifth grade (K-5) enjoyed storytime and a dance lesson.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration was held outdoors on Hillside’s upper and lower blacktops to safely accommodate culturally engaging and immersive activities. Hillside students took turns in rotating cohorts—or two grade levels at a time—to participate in the individual presentations.
“It was a fun and meaningful community building-experience, which will now become a yearly tradition,” said Dr. Michael Sunga, who serves as faculty advisor for the LHS Filipino Club while Xin Cai advises the Chinese Culture Club and Chinese Honor Society.
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In order to include as many elementary students as possible, the event was divided into four assemblies. Participants that day included approximately 250 Hillside students as well as several teachers and Hillside Principal Carlos Gramata.
During the event, the Filipino Club demonstrated and taught “the tinkling,” a traditional folk dance in which two people beat, tap and slide bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination. At the same time, one or more dancers step over and in between the poles.
After an initial history lesson and demonstration, Hillside had an opportunity to participate in the dance themselves.
Program coordinators Russell Fan, Eric Dalangin and Rachel Horn—who also recently co-founded a student support group called Livingston AAPI Youth Alliance to spread cultural awareness, fight racial hatred and promote equity throughout the community—spent several weeks working on logistics for the dancing event. The trio is pictured above alongside co-host and Filipino Club President Malia Quiam.
Elsewhere on the blacktop, students in the Chinese Culture Club and Chinese Honor Society read children’s books authored by AAPI authors.
Thanks to the Livingston Multicultural Parent Association (LMPA), which recently donated such books to the district to help promote cultural awareness in the community and celebrate various Asian customs, club advisor Xin Cai and her students were able to carefully selected texts that were appropriate for a K-5 audience.
As a crew member for AM Wired, LHS junior Lexi Jung filmed and edited a video highlighting the event to be shared with the other five elementary schools. The full video can be seen below:
Student volunteers who participated in the AAPI Heritage Month event from each club are listed below.
Chinese Culture Club and Chinese Honor Society:
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