Students from Dear Asian Youth Novi pose with state Rep. Kelly Breen, center, at the 2023 Asian Pacific Islander Heritage festival at Fuerst Park in Novi. The 2024 festival will take place June 2.

Students from Dear Asian Youth Novi pose with state Rep. Kelly Breen, center, at the 2023 Asian Pacific Islander Heritage festival at Fuerst Park in Novi. The 2024 festival will take place June 2.

Photo provided by the Novi Community School District

Dear Asian Youth Novi to hold second Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Festival

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published May 24, 2024


NOVI — Dear Asian Youth Novi, in conjunction with the city of Novi and the Novi Public Library, will hold its second annual Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Festival from 1 to 5 p.m. June 2 at Fuerst Park.

“This festival is designed to celebrate the cultural diversity in Novi, especially since we have such a great demographic of Asian residents,” said Grace Tie, the outreach director of DAYN and a sophomore at Novi High School.

The festival will feature various performances by local Asian cultural groups such as the Michigan Lion Dance Team. The team is a student-led group composed of Taiwanese, Malaysian and Cantonese students. According to Carrie Ong — social media director for DAYN, a sophomore at Novi High School and co-captain of the team, which includes two other NHS students — the dance is performed at weddings and other cultural events. There will also be a performance by Sakura Japanese Instrumental Group, Hoaloha Polynesian Dance Group and the Nunmaan Tamil Academy.

Tie said they chose those specific groups because they wanted to highlight some of the Asian arts that most people don’t really know about.

“We definitely tried to incorporate as many different types of Asian businesses and groups as possible,” Tie said.

There will also be a variety of vendors offering for purchase limited selections of the types of Asian cuisine they serve at their main locations. DAYN students will be manning several Asian-themed activities tables as well for people to participate in, such as origami, face painting, and henna. At the event, guests will be able to pick up a passport book and collect stamps to gain a raffle ticket for several prizes, such as gift baskets and cards.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, but DAYN chose to celebrate it on the first Sunday in June as it is near enough to May, but closer to the end of the school year.

“It’s a great way to kick off summer vacation, almost,” Ong said. “It’s a day of fun activities and great weather. So that’s why we chose to hold the festival the first week of June. It’s like the perfect time when students are finished worrying about their academics and also before summer gets too busy.”

Tie said the festival gives the community the opportunity to celebrate not only their personal heritage but also the diversity of Novi. According to Tie, more than 25% of the people in Novi are members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. She said that over half of the high school population is Asian American and Pacific Islander.

“Having this diversity at Novi High School is a really good thing because you are exposed to so many other perspectives and cultures, and it definitely opens up your mindset,” Tie said.

Tie said she immigrated to the U.S. and Michigan in particular from Malaysia when she was 10 years old, as her parents had acquired work here.

“It was a pretty crazy experience for me because it all happened so fast and there was a ton of culture shocks,” Tie said.

She said her parents picked Novi for its excellent school system and cultural and racial diversity.

“It’s pretty diverse, so I would have a space to be able to celebrate my heritage,” Tie said.

Ong on the other hand is a first-generation American of Taiwanese and Hong Kong descent. She said she was born in Southfield and then moved to Novi.

“It’s, like, probably a similar story to the American Dream in coming here — just like a better future, better opportunities,” said Ong of her parents’ decision to come to the U.S.

Dear Asian Youth is an international organization meant to empower young people of Asian descent through advocacy work. Ong said the group offers a lot of activities that focus on inclusion.

“It’s a little bit more different than other usual clubs, because first we are a very advocacy-heavy group, and the second thing is that it’s like an organization,’ Ong said. “It’s not just like a Novi High School club thing. It’s an international thing, and because of that we do a lot more community events.”

The group often discusses solidarity with other demographic groups and social stereotypes against Asians, and various hate crimes.

“It’s just like a reminder that you don’t have to go through this alone, especially if it is related to bias because of your skin color,” Ong said.

“This club kind of provides a place for all of us to get together and form this little community,” Tie said.

Ong said last year they had a great turnout and hope to see it again this year. The event is free. Parking is available at the library and the high school lots. Attendees are asked to take photos and share them with #NoviAPIFestival.