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Menah’s Meditation Celebrating Our Diverse Community in April

April 3, 2024

Menahs Meditations photo of Menah Pratt with Quote that Reads We will never know who we might have been if not for the contributions of those who have come before us. Aoril 2024

We are fortunate to study, work, and live in the diverse community of Virginia Tech—a community of many intersecting and unique identities that are celebrated in April.

I encourage you to engage in the following observances as appropriate and reflect on the contributions of Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans (APIDA +); Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) Americans; Arab Americans; and autistic Americans on your lives. We will never know who we might have been if not for the contributions of those who have come before us.

APIDA Heritage Month

While the National Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is observed in May, we at Virginia Tech celebrate APIDA Heritage Month in April to allow students and employees to fully engage with University programming.

The APIDA + Center hosts events year-round that educate, elevate, and advocate around student and employee APIDA + identity, experience, and culture. Throughout April, our director Dr. Nina Ha and assistant director Teresa Wilson, M.A.Ed., have planned everything from nail salons and support groups to learning lunches with artists and game masters. Dr. Ha and Wilson have worked diligently organizing these programs (some in partnership with our Pride and Ati: Wa:oki Indigenous Community Centers and other campus partners), and I applaud them for their efforts.

Pride Week

The national celebration of Pride Month in June commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969 that brought the Gay Rights Movement into the national conversation. Similar to APIDA Heritage Month, the Pride Center hosts Pride Week in the first week of April every academic year so that students and employees can participate in events that range from a legal name change clinic to a meet and greet with the organizers of Denim Day to a screening of the documentary of Ballerina Boys (2021) and more. The week will dovetail into our first Hokie & Proud weekend, a celebration of LGBTQ+ alumni hosted by the Ex Lapide Society.

Director for the Pride Center Dr. “Bing” Bingham and assistant director Haleigh Wallace have done a great job organizing the week of events, and I hope you will show your support.

National Arab American Heritage Month

National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) has been observed at the state-level since 2017 and adopted nationally in 2022. Virginia is one of the few states to pass permanent legislation designating the month of April as NAAHM.

The proclamation for National Arab American Month 2024 highlights the continued need to celebrate the contributions of the more than 3 million Arab Americans to both our history and our future as a country, as well as their essential humanity in a time of a crisis:

Across our country, Arab Americans remain the target of bias and discrimination — including harassment, hate crimes, racist rhetoric, and violent attacks. In recent months, a Palestinian child was killed in his home, a young man was stabbed near a college campus, and a group of students were shot while just walking down the street — tragic reminders that hate never goes away. It only hides. It is up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.

I echo the President’s sentiments and add that the identity of “Arab American,” as with any other identity, isn’t monolithic – the diversity of language, custom, and faith is rich and vibrant and makes Hokie Nation stronger than we could ever be without them.

Autism Acceptance Month

Since 2018, the Autism Society of America has celebrated April as Autism Acceptance Month. Rather than advancing only awareness, the Autism Society advocates for autism acceptance, which includes defining autism in terms of difference rather than deficit, debunking myths about autistic thinking and behavior, and facilitating accommodations for autistic people so they can study, work, and live in ways similar to allistic (non-autistic) people. Autism Acceptance Month is also supported by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, an organization by and for autistic people.

The Virginia Tech Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research will be sharing resources on their Facebook page throughout the month in support of Autism Acceptance Month.


Many engaging meditations,
Menah Pratt, J.D., Ph.D.
Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Diversity
Professor of Education