Celebrating the Enduring Legacy of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in Burien

In honor of Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, the City of Burien is acknowledging these diverse communities have made significant contributions to Burien’s history and culture. More than 26 different ethnic communities with over 67 unique languages and dialects make up the group of people that is being celebrated by this heritage month. Burien’s AANHPI communities are made up of longtime residents, transplants to the region, and new immigrants to the United States. Their unique stories, histories, hopes, and dreams are an integral part of the fabric of our community. Read on to see how the City of Burien and other community organizations are celebrating AANHPI voices, and how you can participate as well.

City of Burien AANHPI Heritage Month Proclamation, May 3, 2021

Burien City Council Issues Proclamation

On May 3, Burien City Council issued a proclamation naming May 2021 “Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month”, asking all community members to celebrate the history and contributions of AANHPI people to the Burien community.

The proclamation highlighted that these communities make up the second-largest community of color in Burien, and that Burien’s first mayor, Dr. Arun Jhaveri, grew up in India and eventually moved to the U.S., making Burien his home.

The proclamation, read by Councilmember Sofia Aragon, was accepted by Eileen Aparis, a Burien resident and Vice President of Job Training and Education at Seattle Goodwill. Councilmember Aragon introduced Aparis, sharing they are both immigrants from the Philippines, and that her uncle’s first job in the U.S. was at Goodwill.

Aparis reflected on growing up in Burien, saying, “It is very humbling for me to be here today … to honor and celebrate our ancestors, my parents as well, as an immigrant myself.” She went on to say, “As a Filipina immigrant navigating in a new country, culture, and language, I saw and learned the personal sacrifices my parents made to give me and my siblings a better future. It is many stories we hear from immigrants who come and relocate into a community that is unknown to them, and [they] don’t know the culture or language. And so, my parents gave me a better future. A future where we could have opportunities to gain employment, so we can pay our bills. Have an education. Have a roof over us and put food on the table. Also, the opportunity for me as a kid to attend Seahurst Elementary School and have great memories in a diverse community like Burien.”

Aparis also talked about the work that Seattle Goodwill does to support community members, including recent immigrants.

“My experiences have led me to where I am … making sure I can be that person to create access for individuals coming to this country so they can also have livable wage jobs, have a great experience like I did, and be able to provide an education and support their families, like my parents … I am very privileged that I can do this every day. I get to help immigrants, and groups, not just contribute to the economic recovery of our community but also have an equitable lens to make sure they can compete and not be left behind because of the way they look, or because they have an accent, or because English is not their first language. We make that possible because we make sure we have the trainers and support services that they so deserve.”

The White House issued a proclamation in honor of the month, stating: “During this year’s Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, our Nation celebrates the achievements of Vice President Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to hold the Office of the Vice President. Vice President Harris has blazed a trail and set an example for young people across the country to aspire to follow, including members of AANHPI communities and AANHPI women in particular.”

Pandemic deepens wounds caused by Anti-Asian hate

The last year has been a painful reminder of the continued threat anti-Asian racism presents to AANHPI communities. Violence against AAPI people rose by 33 percent in 2020, leading Burien to issue several proclamations and statements declaring solidarity with our AANHPI community. Seattle Rep has compiled a list of racial justice resources for those who want to learn more. Some organizations are offering bystander trainings to help ordinary community members disrupt a potential hate incident.

Continue celebrating and learning about AANHPI history

The Highline Heritage Museum will be offering a series of programs and stories throughout the month spotlighting AAPI’s history in the Highline area.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Follow our Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services and Economic Development departments on social media for more stories about our AANHPI community in Burien.  

Learn more

Emily Inlow-Hood
Communications & Public Engagement Manager at 
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