The first time Mina Fedor spoke out about xenophobia she was twelve years old. School had just gone into COVID 19 lockdown and people were talking about the “China virus.” She was asked by her Asian Students Union advisor to address her school at a virtual youth assembly.
Mina at AAPI Youth Rising Rally in Berkeley, CA (March 2021) | AYR
Fast forward six months. The elders in Mina’s community were being attacked. Kids were walking to school with sticks to protect themselves. She and her friends were called names. And Mina’s own mom was coughed at in public as she walked down the street not too far from their home in Oakland, CA. Everything became more personal.
That’s when she got the idea, Mina says, to get some of her friends together at a local park to speak out in March of 2021. She didn’t think it would draw a large turnout, but the day of the event, her parent volunteers stopped counting at 1,200! Mina understood she had touched on something vital. It was then and there that Asian American Pacific Islander Youth Rising (AYR) was born.
The finger heart gesture (popularized by South Korea) looks like a snap—the index finger and thumb cross over each other—but it actually forms a tiny heart. It’s become a simple, powerful way to express love, support, belief in someone, and unity.
Since then, AYR has grown into 70 chapters in 15 states (and counting!), and this year their AAPI lesson campaign will reach 54,000 districts, schools, and out-of-school sites through a partnership with Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Every day AYR works to create positive change in communities across the country by advocating for cultural awareness about Asians in America and to dispel racial stereotypes and misconceptions, like the model minority and the perpetual foreigner syndrome.
Middle School Activist Rises Above AAPI Hate
The organization has received many accolades. It was honored at the United We Stand Summit by President Biden and was part of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. AYR has also been active in supporting an education bill and has been recognized as being a leader in social change activism. Mina was named a Time Magazine Kid of the Year finalist in 2021.
AYR is always seeking new chapter leaders and getting involved is as simple as sending them an email. Kids can write, make art, join public speaking opportunities, conduct interviews, teach the AYR history lesson, and more. You can also follow their work on Instagram @aapiyouthrising. The most important thing, they said when we interviewed them, is trying “to stay informed on current events and understand what xenophobia is.”
We’ll let Mina and her colleagues Mimi Tuden, Saanvi Mukkara, and Johanna Anita Villanueva take it from here!
Actress Michelle Yeoh with Mina on a recent The Asian American Foundation panel | AYR
Hi Mina! Let’s jump right in. Tell us what it was like on that day you got friends together to speak out about your experience with xenophobia.
Mina: It was a bright and sunny day and I still remember all the speeches. Our youngest speaker was six years old. We read poems and we spoke about our hopes for the future. After we saw the impact of the rally, we decided to keep going. That’s how AAPI Youth Rising came together.
We realized that small actions add up to make a difference and that, as kids, we can make a difference—one day at a time. That’s still the heart of our mission today.
Mayday, mayday!” conjures images of a boat sinking into the ocean or an airplane falling from the sky. It is the international distress signal used by boats and aircraft and comes from the phonetic pronunciation of the French phrase “M’aidez,” or “Help me!”
Mayday, spelled as one word, is entirely different from May Day, spelled as two.
Children Holding Ribbons Dancing Round A Maypole On A Summers Day At The Boldre Village Fair, UK | AlamyThe Haymarket Riot | Harper’s Weekly
May Day is, in practice, the opposite of a catastrophic disaster. Think song and dance, a celebration of agriculture, and all things growing—especially flowers. Originating from both the Roman festival Floralia, a weeklong festival honoring Flora, the goddess of youth and spring, and the Celtic holiday Beltane, celebrating “cross-quarter day,” the halfway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice, May Day is an ancient pagan festival celebrating the coming of summer.
The maypole is the most iconic image of the holiday. Originally it was created from a living tree, usually birch, carefully chosen from the woods and pulled into the village by oxen adorned with flowers. After it was decorated with ribbons, people danced around the tree to “bring in May” and to pray for a productive crop season. Flowers are another important part of the holiday. Historically, houses and livestock, like the oxen dragging in the Maypole, were decorated with yellow flowers (yellow was believed to bring good luck and ward off Cailleach, the goddess of cold and winter). Cuttings from flowering trees were brought into the home, floral hoops were made, and people wore flowers in their hair. Finally, May baskets, filled with flowers, were left secretly on doorsteps. (A cool riff on that custom: someone would leave flowers, yell “May basket!” and then run away. If the person was caught, they owed the recipient a kiss!)
What is May Day?
So May Day is certainly different from mayday. There is even a third meaning to the first day of May. Today, in many countries, May 1st is best known as International Workers’ Day. The industrial revolution in the United States gave rise to capitalism, which created an untenable situation for the working class, who were forced to work (or to labor) up to sixteen hours a day. These early practices included children as young as five or six, often in very dangerous conditions! Many labor unions formed to change these conditions, including the American Federation of Labor that planned a strike for May 1, 1886, to support workers in Chicago in their fight for an eight-hour work day. This became known as the Haymarket Affair of 1886: on May 3, the strike turned violent between laborers and the police force, and on May 4,a meeting held in Haymarket Square became deadly and laborers and police were killed.. In one pivotal moment, a bomb exploded, and although to this day no one is sure who set it or who it was intended for, eight laborers were accused and four of them were hanged. One of the men, August Spies, said before he died: “There will come a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.”
The Haymarket Riot | Harper’s Weekly | Wikipedia
His words were eerily prescient. In 1889, an international federation of socialists and trade unions decided that May 1 would become International Workers’ Day (also known as Labour Day in some countries). Interestingly, the US doesn’t officially recognize the May 1st holiday, even though it began because of the Haymarket Affair in Chicago. Instead, the US celebrates Labor Day in September to commemorate September 5, 1882, when 10,000–20,000 workers walked together through Lower Manhattan in a protest organized by New York City’s Central Labor Union. Historians say the US resistance to recognizing International Workers’ Day comes from a time when the US didn’t want to encourage worldwide unity around labor practices. “The ruling class did not want to have a very active labor force connected internationally,” said Peter Linebaugh, author of The Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day.
“Mayday, mayday!” the working class might have called out.
'No Place Like Home' GPS shoes by Dominic Wilcox
Dominic Wilcox believes we are ALL creative, it’s just that some of us—let’s face it, mostly adults—have buried our creativity deep under things like efficiency and dependability and maturity. But the London-based designer, artist, and creative genius practices what he preaches. His “No Place Like Home” GPS shoes can literally guide you home. Commissioned by the Global Footprint Project in Northamptonshire (a shoe-making mecca of the world), Dominic designed a shoe that has an embedded GPS system in the heel and mini LED lights inside the traditional brogue shoe holes that light up to direct you.
Dominic, his shoes, and his awesome creativity are the brilliance behind Little Inventors, an arts-in-education organization that connects kid inventors with grown-up experts who bring kids’ inventions to life. Dominic began it in 2015, when he set up inventing workshops for kids in his native Sutherland county, in northern Scotland. Since then, Little Inventors has become a global project.
Little Inventors: Science Friday takes a look at Little Inventors
How does it work? It’s a three step process:
Little Inventors creates free resources, guides, and worksheets for organizations, teachers, and parents to encourage kids to think up and draw great invention ideas.
They choose a handful of the ideas and challenge skilled designers, builders, and makers to work with the kids to turn their ideas into reality. A critical part of this phase is that the kids get to collaborate with the experts and actually help to make their drawings into 3D realities!
Finally, they showcase the kids’ inventions online and in books and exhibitions to inspire other kids to create more, believe more, and make the world better.
Right now, Little Inventors has over 10,000 ideas for inventions on its website, ranging from the absurd (“The Roberto: a robot dog that…doesn’t have to go poop and you do not have to take it for walks, as it can take walks by itself. It will be soft and fluffy, and comes fully trained”) to the practical (''The Turtlater: this supports turtles in making the crossing from the nesting site to the ocean…a propeller pushes the vehicle containing the turtle across the sand to the sea. It is covered to protect the turtles from predators with a door to let the turtles out”). The Little Inventors team takes every idea seriously and treats each one with great respect. Its mission, after all, is to help kids “develop and showcase their creativity and problem-solving skills, [and] build their confidence, curiosity, and resilience to become caring citizens of our planet.”
’The Worry Shredder’ invented by Thomas age 8 and brought to life by Gareth Owen Lloyd
Pretty cool mission.
At its center, Little Inventors believes creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly to stay strong. It believes the word invent creates a bridge between the artistic mind and the scientific mind. And it believes that, with nurturing, kids can change the world, one crazy invention at a time. (The Worry Shredder is one invention too good to ignore: you write your worry on a piece of paper, slide it into the top of the box, watch it get shredded into a bin below, and then a word of wisdom slides out like a receipt at a gas pump. Plus you get a chocolate! Yes please, we want this invention!)
While every month is Inventors’ Month for Dominic and his company, May is its official spot on the calendar. To celebrate, Little Inventors has put out a simple challenge called What’s Your Problem? Can’t remember which clothes on your bedroom floor are dirty and which are clean? Hate taking off your shoes when you’re only coming inside for a second and then going back out but your mom loses her mind if you keep them on?
Your dog jumps up on the counter and eats your afterschool snack every single day? Get your creative juices flowing and solve the problem!
A space for quick updates & notable news.
Watch out, Westminster Abbey!
Remember Max Woosey? The thirteen-year-old adventurer we profiled in our November 2022 issue? Max slept in a tent for three years to raise money for North Devon Hospice, and, in the process, set a Guinness World Record. His adventure continues, as he was one of 850 “commoners of distinction” who were invited to King Charles III’s coronation last Saturday. How did he feel about the surprise invitation? In his typical humble fashion, Max said, “It's amazing to see that people are getting recognized…[people who] have helped save lives….” Who was Max’s lucky plus one? His dad!
Iowa Students Buck Book-Banning Governor
Three high school Iowa Governor’s Scholars took their moment in the spotlight to protest Kim Reynold’s latest policies. As the students accepted their awards from the Governor with cameras flashing, one shouted, "Trans rights are human rights," and two other award recipients wore t-shirts in protest (Public Money for Public Schools and I Read Banned Books). Read more about the student protest in The Independent. In a recent and related New York Times article, learn how school book banning even found its way into publishing decisions with author Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s picture book Love in the Library. Her book’s censorship during AAPI Awareness Month has made the issue even more critical and difficult to ignore.