Skip To Main Content

Schools Panel

Sidebar Container

Sticky call to action buttons

Downingtown STEM Academy Sophomore Advocates for Inclusion of AAPI History in School Curriculums

Shawn Zhu, a 16-year-old sophomore at the Downingtown STEM Academy with a keen interest in Computer Science, is making a significant impact in advocating for the inclusion of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history and culture in Pennsylvania's school curriculums. His journey began with an insightful interview and has since blossomed into a dedicated volunteer role with the nationwide initiative, Make Us Visible.

Shawn’s involvement with Make Us Visible (MUV) started when he interviewed Mr. Hong, the director of MUV Pennsylvania, about the organization’s mission. "I was deeply moved by their cause," Shawn recalled. "The initiative seeks to integrate AAPI contributions, cultures, and histories into K-12 classrooms, which is something I strongly believe in." Inspired by this mission, Shawn volunteered to become MUVPA’s Social Media Content Manager and Graphic Designer, utilizing his skills to enhance the organization's outreach and engagement.

Founded in January 2021 by two parents and a teacher in response to the rise in anti-Asian American violence, Make Us Visible has already made strides in states like New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. These states have passed legislation mandating the inclusion of AAPI history in K-12 schools, a testament to the organization's impactful advocacy work.

Shawn’s contributions go beyond digital content creation. He actively participates in events in Philadelphia and encourages his peers at Downingtown STEM Academy to support the cause by writing to their state representatives. "The inclusion of AAPI studies not only celebrates the contributions and achievements of Asian Americans but also provides essential education to combat anti-Asian hate and violence," Shawn stated passionately.

Reflecting on his personal experiences, Shawn shared an incident from his elementary school years when he was told to "go back to China." This hurtful experience, though not related to his current school district (DASD), left a lasting impact on him. "It made me realize the importance of understanding and accepting multiple perspectives in history," he said. "When we exclude the AAPI community's perspectives, we undermine the experiences and knowledge that enrich our collective history."

Shawn firmly believes that including AAPI history in K-12 education will help decrease discrimination, ignorance, hate, violence, and stereotypes. "It will help alleviate the feeling of not belonging that many Asian Americans experience," he explained. "We need to stop the misinformation and provide everyone with a complete picture of our contributions to this country. We want to be part of the collective memory of 'We The People.'"

Justin Brown, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Downingtown Area School District, praised Shawn's efforts. "Shawn's commitment to advocating for AAPI inclusion is truly commendable," Brown said. "His work exemplifies the values of diversity and inclusion that we strive to uphold in our district. By championing this cause, Shawn is helping to create a more inclusive and understanding community for all students."

Shawn's dedication to promoting AAPI history and culture in school curriculums highlights the critical role young people can play in fostering a more inclusive and educated society. His efforts with Make Us Visible not only advocate for the recognition and celebration of AAPI contributions but also work towards building a future where all students feel valued and included in the narrative of our shared past.

AAPI Month Fox 29news
AAPI Month Fox 29news 2