Excuse me, are you listening? – Yes, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia are in Western Asia

Dear Readers,

It is important for The New Citizens Press to also write about other cultures and their celebrations.

Working at the United Nations in the late ‘80’s exposed me to people, cultures and how different and the same we are.

I was an English Clerk at the United Nations (UN). The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is the main policy-making organ of the Organization. Comprising of 193 Member States now. The UNGA provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter of the UN. Simply, it means that countries would meet during the UNGA to discuss issues.

My primary job was to retrieve the notes that were taken during the UNGA to the English, French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese interpreter units to have the meeting minutes transcribed into their language.

One of many favorite units to visit was the Chinese. They were always very kind and very curious. They never went out for lunch or dinner but preferred to stay in their tightknit group. At lunch they would bring one bag and they would share the contents.

I was always cordial and befriended one of the young women that worked in the unit.

One day as their lunch of stir fry vegetables was warming in the microwave and rice bubbled while it cooked in a small red-hot pot plugged into the wall by the window, they invited me in to sit and chat. We sat on the cold hard floor.

With my limited time, they arrived right to the point and a man asked, “Why do Black people burn down their houses when rent is so expensive?”

I was shocked but not offended. I was used to the strange questions.

I told them that Chinatown was born out of racism. I said that the Chinese was discriminated against in housing and that same housing is in deplorable condition. I told them that Black people sometimes have landlords who do not take care of the building which may cause electrical fires. I gave them a mini-Black history lesson.

Our conversation only lasted 10 minutes but it always stuck with me and I made sure that I was responsible for my own journey to dispel myths.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Where are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from?

The U.S. Census Bureau classifies people of Asian descent as “having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent,” including, but not limited to China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, India, Cambodia, Vietnam or the Philippines.

Pacific Islanders are people who descended from the islands of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. This classification includes, but is not limited to people from Native Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Guam, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea.

The following is a list of commonly used Asian American and Pacific Islander-related terms. While these terms may commonly be used, it is important to note there is a possibility some cultural identities can overlap in this larger classification of AAPI individuals.

AAPI: Asian American and Pacific Islander. This term generally includes all people of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander descent.

Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent.

East Asian: A person of Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean and Mongolian descent.

South Asian: A person of Indian, Bangladesh, Sri Lankan, Nepal and Pakistani backgrounds.

Southeast Asian: A person of Filipino, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Lao, Indonesian, Thai or Singaporean descent.

Central Asian: A person with origins in the original peoples of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Pacific Islander: A person with origins in the original peoples of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.

West Asian: A person with origins in the original peoples of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Surprised right! I was too. But then again, I remember the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Love people,

Rina Risper