SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time to celebrate these communities’ diverse cultures and contributions.

It’s celebrated in May because in May 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States. After numerous instances of racism, harassment, and hate crimes, this year’s celebration is even more significant.

Even more fitting, the first ever Hawaiian-born Pacific Islander winning American Idol this past Sunday, a major milestone for the AAPI community, adding to this celebratory occasion.

The Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Springfield College Deja Ware, says having an opportunity for everyone to be celebrated, is important. “There are a lot of things in our education that have been pulled back, from really coming to the front to say hey look at these accomplishments that Asian Americans have been able to do.”

She adds those from these heritages are huge contributors to our art, history, and growth of the agriculture system. Some ways you can show support are shopping at Asian-owned businesses or donating to charities that fight against Asian hate.