May 15, 2024

PBA Student Ami Piper Celebrates Heritage and Identity

Ami Piper

PBA News

As AAPI Heritage Month prompts reflection and celebration of the rich histories and contributions of Asian Americans, Ami Piper, a first-year Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) student, offers a unique insight into the intersection of adoption, multicultural upbringing and personal identity within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Ami’s story shares the beauty of cultural integration. 

Born in China and adopted by a multicultural family in Florida, Ami’s early years were steeped in an educational journey that aimed to connect her with her Chinese roots.  

“My parents made sure I had the Chinese heritage,” Ami recalls. From a young age, she attended a Chinese school on Saturdays, learning to read, write and speak Mandarin. 

“It was a community of Chinese families,” she explains. This early education connected Ami with her cultural roots and established a lifelong appreciation for her heritage. 

A Tapestry of Cultures 

Ami’s family background is as diverse as her education. Her mother, a Cuban immigrant with Spanish heritage, and her father, a native Floridian, ensure she has a rich familial culture.  

“My mom took me to Spain every summer to see family and immerse myself in Spanish culture,” Ami shares, highlighting the blend of influences that shaped her upbringing. Her connection to Chinese culture continued through community events like Lunar New Year festivals and visits to the Kravitz Center for performances by Shen Yuan. 

Despite setbacks like the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled her planned trip to China in 2020, Ami remains hopeful about visiting her country of birth in the future. 

The Impact of AAPI Heritage 

Reflecting on what AAPI heritage means to her, Ami emphasizes the importance of understanding and embracing one’s background. 

 ”Learning about the Chinese culture showed me the importance of family and close ties, something deeply valued in many Asian cultures,” she notes. This awareness has been crucial in her personal development and integration of her dual identities. 

At PBA, Ami has found a community of fellow adoptees from China, which she describes as both surprising and comforting.  

“It’s been amazing getting to know them and hearing their story. We all came from different parts of China and were different ages when we were adopted,” she says.  

This network of friends allows her a network that shares her common heritage and unique adoption stories, enriching Ami’s college experience. 

Cultural Practices and Personal Advice 

Offering advice to younger Asian Americans, Ami stresses the importance of maintaining one’s cultural identity.  

“Where we come from is super important. We aren’t fully American or Asian, which places us in a very unique position,” Ami says. She encourages embracing and blending these dual aspects to build a richer, more inclusive society. 

Ami’s journey is a profound reminder of the nuanced experiences within the AAPI community and the power of heritage in shaping personal and collective identities. 

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