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Meng introduces bill to ensure students learn Asian Pacific American history

New York: US Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, announced Oct 5 that she introduced the Teaching Asian Pacific American History Act (H.R. 8519), a bill to promote the teaching and learning of Asian Pacific American history in schools across the United States.

The announcement of the bill’s introduction comes on this day, 42 years ago, when President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. This week-long celebration was later extended to a month after President George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress in 1990.

 “For decades, our children’s social studies textbooks have misrepresented, or excluded, the history of Asian Pacific Americans,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Our children are graduating from high school without learning of the important contributions the Asian Pacific American community has made throughout our nation’s history. They are also graduating without learning of the disenfranchisement and discrimination Asian Pacific Americans have faced at the hands of the United States government. I firmly believe we cannot fully empower our students to be strong and empathetic leaders without teaching them all of America’s history – both the good and the bad. Our school teachings need to reflect the diversity of the American experience and accurately portray the history of Asian Pacific Americans. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”

Asian Pacific Americans have made immeasurable contributions to our nation throughout its history. As far back as the 1700s, APAs have played an integral part in shaping American society. They have shaped the face of infrastructure, created the pillars of our economy, and bravely laid down their lives in service to their country. However, for generations, Asian Pacific American history has been poorly represented in our K-12 education system and social studies textbooks.

The Teaching Asian Pacific American History Act would require Presidential and Congressional Academies to include Asian Pacific American history as part of their American history and civics programs offered to students and teachers. Every year, hundreds of teachers and students attend these academies for an in-depth study in American history and civics, which includes visiting sites of historical importance.

Additionally, the Congresswoman’s legislation would encourage the inclusion of Asian Pacific American history in national and state tests administered through the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and promote collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center to develop innovative programming regarding Asian Pacific American history.

“History is collective memory that gives us a sense of connection to place, time, and community–and we applaud Rep. Grace Meng’s efforts to water and grow this sensibility such that students understand that America’s history includes the important experience of generations of Asian Americans,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation. 

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UN set to vote for Security Council seat assured for India

United Nations: The 193 members of the UN were set to vote on late Wednesday to elect five non-permanent members to the Security Council and India is assured of a victory having won the unanimous backing of the Asian Pacific group.

India is running on a platform of fighting terrorism and having a commitment to multilateralism and an equitable international system.

In a campaign document, India laid out a “5S” approach of Samman (Respect), Samvad (Dialogue), Sahyog (Cooperation) Shanti (Peace) and Samriddi (Prosperity).

When elected, India will begin a two-year term on the highest decision-making body of the UN on January 1 joining Vietnam as one of the two non-permanent Asian members and replacing Indonesia that will complete its tenure at the end of this year.

Its election to the Security Council will come as India is entangled in a heated territorial confrontation with permanent member China, which is also the patron of Pakistan on the Council.

India will step into a Council Chamber next year paralysed by the polarization of its veto-wielding permanent members that almost harks back to the Cold War era.

It will have to deftly deal with intractable issues like the Syrian civil war with international dimensions, Ukraine’s disputes with Russia, the US — or President Donald Trump’s — obsession with Iran or its fallout, and Yemen.

But at least when China tries to bring up the Kashmir issue in the Council as it has done twice recently, India will be right there.

Elections will also be held simultaneously for the president of the next session of the General Assembly that starts in September and for the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Volkan Bozkir, a Turkish diplomat and politician, is running unopposed for the presidency as are the 18 countries for that many vacancies on the ECOSOC.

The ten non-permanent Security Council seats are distributed among five regional groups and elections are held every year for the five that fall vacant on alternate years.

Mexico, which has the unanimous backing of the group for the Latin American and Caribbean, is assured of the seat.

But there are contested elections for the three others.

For the African seat, Djibouti is running against Kenya, which has the unanimous backing of the group.

Kenya is almost certain to get the African seat with the endorsement of the continent’s countries, while Djibouti is counting on a rift between the Arab and Non-Arab nations in the group.

Canada, Norway and Ireland are contesting the two seats allotted to the group made up of West European countries and others like Canada and Australia that do not fit in elsewhere.

A two-thirds majority is required for election and additional rounds will be held if candidates don’t get it the first time around.

Extra rounds, which will be held on subsequent days, are likely for the West Europe and Others seats, which are very competitive.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau phoned India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday to canvass New Delhi’s vote for his country.

Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide had a video conversation with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

Ireland, which is led by Indian-origin Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, is not known to have contacted India in recent days to seek its vote.

When elected, it will be India’s eighth stint on the Council.

Its last term was in 2011-12 and Hardeep Singh Puri, who was then India’s Permanent Representative and is now a minister, immediately planned to bid for it next term not wanting a long gap like the 19 years since the previous 1991-92 tenure.

The groundswell of support for India in the Asia Pacific group made Pakistan and China fall in line making it a unanimous endorsement.

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