Texas Tech University

In Spite of COVID-19, Celebrations of History, Identity, Culture Continue

Amanda Castro-Crist

May 20, 2020


This year, the Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi, Arab Heritage Month campus celebration is happening online.

In 2019, members of the Texas Tech University community established the first campus celebration of Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi, Arab (APIDA) Heritage Month. Celebrated on campus in April and nationally in May, the month is an initiative to start the conversation and celebration of APIDA history, identities and culture. The first observance included several events, like the annual Holi Festival of Colors and the Worldwide Showcase, which features singing and dancing from around the world.

This year, the celebration was very different.

"Due to COVID-19, we had to cancel many of our events because we are no longer able to be on campus," said APIDA Heritage Month organizer Nanette Kaye Dolera, a junior honors arts and letters major and chemistry minor from Lubbock. "COVID-19 took away our ability to be in each other's company and placed our fellow community members in troubling circumstances. We recognize this struggle, especially among our APIDA friends who not only have to adjust to our new norm, but who also may be experiencing physical and verbal attacks related to their ethnicity."

Instead of hosting events, the celebration has been taken online to the ADIPA Heritage Month webpage, where students, faculty and staff can share their stories of trials, tribulations and resilience as part of the community. The webpage is one of several hosted on the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DDEI) website celebrating various heritage months throughout the year.

"The webpage is linked to the Student Intersectional Leadership Council (SILC) website, a new student-led leadership coalition working with the DDEI and the campus community to foster an inclusive environment to ensure Raiderland is a place where all are welcome," Dolera said. "On the SILC website, visitors also will gain access to how SILC supports various communities on campus such as LatinX, Black/African American, Womxn and LGBTQIA. By implementing the ADIPA webpage, which is meant for everyone, we hope to reclaim the difficulties that surround this pandemic by reigniting the confidence in our APIDA Red Raiders, to celebrate our culture and share our unique contributions to society for all to learn."

Dolera said going forward, the intention is to use the website to not only recognize the APIDA community, but also to encourage others to learn about APIDA culture. Texas Tech's diverse student body enriches the academic journey by allowing students to learn from one another, she added.

"These interactions and exposures to different perspectives can help inform inquiry, create respectful dialogue or shape ideas, resulting in a holistic college experience so we are able to graduate Red Raiders who are both competent and compassionate without one trait being attained at the expense of another," Dolera said. "As our society reshapes itself to be more inclusive and globally interconnected, the obligation of higher education includes effectively responding to a changing landscape. It is essential that Texas Tech students, faculty, staff and leaders across campus provide platforms that represent its diverse student body, so everyone feels supported and empowered in their endeavors."

For more information, visit the ADIPA Heritage Month webpage.

For more information about other heritage month and cultural celebrations at Texas Tech, visit the DDEI website.