The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

AAPI Heritage Festival enlivens St. Mark’s Square

Matthew Law
A group of AAPI dancers perform their dance to a Hawaiian song relating to their ethnic origin. During the festival, numerous performances embraced diverse cultural backgrounds. “I learned a lot more about how the dancing tells a story and hear the details of how the hula tells a story,” said volunteer Shannon Cheng. “Also, it’s a way to pass down stories through generations.”

St. Mark’s Square hosted its first-ever Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Festival featuring hula dancers, local artists, and AAPI advocates. 

During the festival, attendees were welcome to watch the dancers and look at the different booths. 

One local artist, Derrick Higa, sold original shirts, stickers, keychains, and other products at his booth. Based in the San Francisco area, Higa is both an artist and a retail store co-owner in a shop in Japantown. 

“My inspiration is definitely from Japanese culture,” Higa said. “With the patterns found in Asian culture and the meanings behind them, I wanted to give a perspective on how I grew up in the Bay Area.” 

Additionally, Higa tries to weave elements from his hometown into his art whenever he makes art by himself or collaborates with others. 

“Iconic San Francisco landmarks make their way into my art,” Higa said. “Since I’ve started working with one of my friends at our retail shop, we’ve tried to hone in on Japantown-specific designs.” 

Meanwhile, Higa establishes a personal connection with the art he does through representing his own culture and selling products to the local community.

“Being an artist myself and being able to sell my products, you connect with people that way,” Higa said. “It gives me an opportunity to put myself out there and speak out and connect that way.” 

Moreover, Higa hopes to increase AAPI awareness by opening a store in Japantown, specifically in San Francisco, where over 27% of San Francisco residents identify as AAPI, according to Bay Area Equity Atlas.

“It’s big that we can have our shop in Japantown, so the idea is just to increase foot traffic and bring people back to the neighborhood and the community,” Higa said. “You get to share your story there and the significance of the community.” 

You get to share your story there and also share the significance of the community.

— Derrick Higa

Similarly, a Kindergarten teacher and Asian Women’s Shelter (AWS) volunteer, Kai-Yao To, ran a booth at the festival as she handed out support pamphlets to interested people. 

“We provide social services for people who suffer from violence and also the information and support that they need,” To said. 

Although the organization focuses on supporting Asian women, it still offers support to anyone within the Bay Area community. 

“We work to fight against human trafficking, manual labor trafficking, and also the people who suffer from domestic violence,” To said. 

As an immigrant, To is familiar with hardships, which motivates her to support those in the same situation. 

“I want to contribute back to our community because I was a first-generation immigrant who got a lot of support from many friends,” To said. “So now that I have certain skills and abilities, I can support the community.” 

Furthermore, the festival impacts not only the attendees but also the volunteers at St. Mark’s Square. So far, for the first time, the festival has resonated with many. 

“This is the first time we’ve done this festival, but I have volunteered at other events here before,” said volunteer Shannon Cheng. 

However, as it is the first time, many would like to see a festival in St. Mark’s Square again, but on a larger platform. 

“I think we need more performers and vendors next year,” Cheng said. “Hopefully, we can make the festival even more amplified next time.”

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
About the Contributor
Matthew Law
Matthew Law, Staff Writer
Matthew Law (Class of 2026) enjoys tennis, piano, listening to music, and spending time with friends. He covers local news, including San Carlos/Belmont and the Bay Area. As a journalist, he aims to inform the local community to raise awareness about significant events and developments around them.

Comments (0)

We invite comments and responses to our content. Comments that are deemed appropriate and relevant will be published.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *