AAPI Heritage Month: ABQ studio gives New Mexicans a taste of the tropics

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — May is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and a local dance studio is giving New Mexicans a taste of the tropics.

Hawaii may be over 3,000 miles away but Ka Lā Kapu Polynesian Dance School brings the centuries-old tradition of hula to the high desert.

Every movement, they say, tells a story about living on the islands.

“We just want to instill in our children and our future children, grandchildren, what our culture is about and what their bloodline says about them,” said Vera Lynne Romano, a hula dancer.

Sine Ka Lā Kapu opened 11 years ago, their hālau – or class – grows each year. That’s why they had to expand to a new, bigger space on Osuna just off of I-25.

They take in people of all ages. For instance, their youngest dancer is five years old, while their most-seasoned dancer is almost 80.

“They just want to learn and we’re more than willing to help and teach and spread our aloha,” Romano said.

If you’d like to sign up for one of the classes they offer, click here.


In celebration, many community organizations across the metro are celebrating AAPI Heritage Month in various ways. Below is a list of events.

Singing Arrow Multicultural Arts Festival

This event celebrates cultural diversity and will feature performers such as Bao Lion Dance, Matachines, Celtic and more. Local artists will display their work, food trucks will offer a variety of world cuisine, and Open Space Rangers will lead tours of the Singing Arrow Archaeological Site.

  • Who: Family & Community Services & Albuquerque City Council 
  • When: Saturday, May 6, 2023 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Where: Singing Arrow Community Center

26th Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Day

This event will feature cultural performances and music, Japanese floral arrangements, Chinese art activities, and more. Celebrate the cultural traditions, ancestry, native languages and unique experiences represented among ethnic groups from Asia and the Pacific. The event is included with paid Museum admission and can be purchased the day of the event at the door. For more information about this event, please click here.

  • Who: National Museum of Nuclear Science & History and Sandia National Laboratories Asian Leadership Outreach Committee
  • When: Saturday, May 6, 2023 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Where: National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Asian American Pacific Islander Graduation Ceremony

UNM’s Asian American Pacific Islander Resource Center (AAPIRC) will be hosting a graduation ceremony to celebrate students’ achievements. This event is sponsored by the Office of Equity & Inclusion.

  • Who: AAPI Resource Center
  • When: Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 6 p.m.
  • Where: AAPI Resource Center at UNM

“We are forever foreigners”: Understanding Asian Children’s Experiences of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes During the Pandemic Through Parents’ Voices

This session will feature speakers Sojeong Nam and Jeongwoon Jeong. This session’s learning objectives are the following: To describe experiences of anti-Asian hate crimes among Asian and Asian American children during the pandemic, to identify themes derived from a qualitative inquiry with parents, and to discuss implications for supporting and working with Asian and Asian Americans in light of the findings. Register here.

  • Who: UNM’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • When: Thursday, May 11, 2023 from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Where: Virtual via Zoom

Building Community: Finding Your Food, Fun, & Family in Albuquerque!

This session will feature speakers Akshay Sood and Joyce Pang. This session’s learning objectives include openly exchanging highlights of being Asian in Albuquerque and New Mexico. Compile a list of local restaurants and businesses to visit this month and every month and identify local resources and organizations for language and cultural education. Register here

  • Who: UNM’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
    When: Tuesday, May 16, 2023 from 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Hybrid format

Asian American Pacific Islander History Month Trivia Night

The purpose of this event is to bring together community members to learn about notable Asian American/Pacific Islander identified individuals and their contributions to health care and society. Register here.

  • Who: UNM’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • When: Thursday, May 18, 2023 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Hybrid format