About Us

APIDA stands for Asian, Pacific Island, Desi, and Arab. It is an acronym used to represent all the specific identities within the Asian cultural diaspora, some which have been historically excluded as community members due to Western influence and imperialism. The Student Center for Equity and Inclusion is dedicated to providing programs and opportunities that empower, celebrate, and support all identities within the APIDA community.

Cultural Holiday Celebrations

Throughout the academic year we provide celebrations and worship opportunities for important cultural holidays practiced across the Asian continent. Listed below are some of the major holidays we celebrate on campus.

Mid-Autumn Festival

  • Celebration: Harvest Moon Festival
  • Celebrated by East and Southeast Asian communities
  • Celebration: Festival of Lights
  • Celebrated by Desi, Hindu, Sikh, and Jain communities
Lunar New Year
  • Celebration: Beginning of the Lunar Calendar
  • Celebrated by East and Southeast Asian communities
  • Celebration: Festival of Spring/Colours
  • Celebrated by Hindu Communities

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What does "APIDA" stand for?

    Asian - People with ancestral and cultural ties to the continent of Asia; typically attached to a region of the continent for identity specifications (East Asian, West Asian, Southeast Asian, etc.).

    Pacific Island - People with ancestral and cultural ties to the Indigenous/Native communities in the nations/territories in Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia (including Natives of Hawaii and Alaska).

    Desi - People with specific ancestral and cultural ties to South Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, etc.).

    Arab - People with ancestral and cultural ties to the countries that are commonly referred to as the "Middle East" that are geographically located in West Asia and parts of North Africa (WANA).

  • Why not use "Asian" or "AAPI"?

    Technically anyone with community ties to the countries and/or indigenous/nomadic tribes in the Asian continent could call themselves "Asian." However, Western imperialism, perception, and influence transformed the word to first only represent East Asian countries (Korea, China, and Japan) and later to include Southeast Asian countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Phillipines, etc.), thus leaving out members who identify with the entire other half of the continent and the island nations in the pacific.

    Recently, the term "AAPI" (Asian-American & Pacific Islander) has become a common identifier for the community. Although it includes the pacific island communities/nations, the term continues to lack significant reference to members of the Desi and Arab communities and disregards non-US affiliated community members who are still impacted by similar challenges faced by the entire community.

  • Are Arab people Asian?

    Yes and No. There are many Arab people from countries that are located on the continent of Asia**, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen, etc. However, the Arab community also includes people and cultures in North Africa like Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Somalia, etc.

    **Currently, People from Western Asian/Arab Countries/Middle East are categorized as "White" (not Asian) in the U.S., thus preventing folks from these cultures to identify as such. Although Arab cultural practices differ from those typically associated with East, South, and Southeast Asian communities, we at the SCEI, consider students from Arab countries as part of the community.

  • Isn’t National Asian and Pacific Island Month celebrated in May?
    Yes, the national celebratory month dedicated to the APIDA community is observed in May in the United States. However, since the primary academic year at the University of Richmond ends in late April, APIDA students are left without a cultural celebration month. This is why APIDA Heritage Month is celebrated from March 15 - April 15, to ensure that it does not impact other cultural heritage or history months.
  • Isn’t National Arab American Heritage Month in April anyway?
    Yes, that is correct. However, much like Asian and Pacific Heritage Month, the majority of April is full of projects, capstones, papers, and finals, which normally take away from celebratory opportunities. This is why we include Arab Heritage Month into APIDA Heritage Month as well.
  • How can I help plan for APIDA Heritage Month?

    Any person or group interested in supporting APIDA Heritage Month can send an email to Dani Dho-Roberts in the Student Center for Equity & Inclusion. 

    **Preliminary planning for APIDA Heritage Month usually begins in early October.