LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Seeing a need to educate others about her heritage, Helen Lang opened what is now called The Asia Institute - Crane House after attending the Kentucky State Fair in the 80s.
"As she was walking around, she noticed that the attendees were looking at her as if she were one of the baked goods or quilts around," executive director Joel Buno said. "During that time, many did not know [Asians] — specifically here in Kentucky."
Though it first started as the China Institute, the name was later changed to Asia Institute to recognize all Asian cultures. Once pandemic restrictions are lifted, AICH hopes to continue hosting tea ceremonies, teaching origami, leading calligraphy workshops and more to better educate the community.
"Please come hungry," Buno said. "Learn to appreciate the joy of the different flavors of Asia. Be prepared to experience the flavors, the cultures and just to learn and appreciate that this gem is here in Louisville, Kentucky, a region that benefits from learning about our brothers and sisters."
In addition to hosting programs that connect Kentucky and Southern Indiana residents with Asian traditions and events, AICH works with partners to support local Asian businesses and community members.
Asian Americans make up 2.7% of Louisville Metro's population, with close to a dozen different Asian cultures represented in the community. Buno said the majority of Asian residents are Indian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese and Korean.
An immediate concern has been continued violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community across the country. Nationally, Buno said violence has gone up 157%.
Buno said there has not been a major increase in cases of anti-Asian violence in Louisville Metro since early 2020, but said people who see something must say something.
Additionally, he encouraged people to look at Asian representation at their workplace, their committees or leadership boards.
"Look at your own areas of leadership and really see how many Asians do I have who are apart of this, because the way we are going to transcend this is through representation and through education," Buno said.
For more information on The Asia Institute - Crane House, visit their website.
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