Local AAPI Storytelling Initiative Honors Heritage Month

Local AAPI Storytelling Initiative Honors Heritage Month

An artist from India who came to the U.S. on an artist visa in 2017, now has murals in schools and businesses throughout the state. 

A Montagnard woman who came to the U.S. as a refugee when she was 13, now leads an organization that serves Montagnard Americans. 

And a Chinese American geriatrician conducts research in elderly care because of her own close relationship with her grandparents in China.

These are just a sampling of local AAPI stories published by PAVE NC (Pan Asian Voices & Experiences) since it was established last May. More are forthcoming in the year ahead.

PAVE NC is a nonpartisan, 100% volunteer-led storytelling initiative that shares the experiences of Asian-American and Pacific Islanders in North Carolina. Since its inception in May 2021, PAVE NC has published 10 stories on its website, including those of co-founders Tina Firesheets and Christie Soper.

As Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month approaches, PAVE NC will mark its one-year anniversary in these ways:

  • A new AAPI story will be published on its website each week in May. Producers will continue to post a new feature each month afterward. These stories are available to download and share for free. See website for details.
  • A social from 1-4 p.m., Sunday, May 22 at Potent Potables (115 E. Main St. Jamestown) for AAPIs and allies. The free, family-friendly event will also feature food for sale from Steven’s Banh Mi food truck. Beverages are available for purchase at Potent Potables.
  • PAVE co-producers are also available to speak at company DEI events or to other groups interested in learning more about AAPI issues and perspectives. In addition, co-producers are eager to collaborate with local media seeking story ideas during AAPI month and beyond.

Co-founders believe that sharing personal stories can raise awareness and lead to better cultural understanding.

“I really felt like AAPI voices and stories were missing from conversations about race and diversity in the South,” says co-founder Tina Firesheets. “We are often overlooked in those conversations. So, PAVE NC is a platform for us to be able to share those stories and to increase our visibility in communities.”

According to data published by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 339 percent in 2021, compared to 2020. The need to highlight the diverse Asian-American community in NC is  also as important as ever. The demographic is the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the U.S. and that’s reflected in NC, according to the Pew Research Center. In fact, over the past decade, the state’s Asian American population has grown by 85 percent.

The Asian American experience is unique for every individual regardless of one’s country of origin, one’s path to America, and how many generations of residence here,” says PAVE co-founder Christie Soper. “Our mission over the last year has been to raise awareness by giving voice to a diverse community of fascinating stories.”

“Our stories are rich and complex. They are relevant and significant yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” Firesheets says. “I am eager to share my own, as well as to share those of others.”

“We are grateful to all who have participated and supported our efforts and look forward to connecting more neighbors and friends locally,” Soper adds. 

For updates and new features, follow PAVE NC on Instagram @panasianvoices and Facebook at PAVE NC