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Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage


POV has featured a number of films that are ideal for introducing students to Asian American history and celebrating the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans. This collection offers educators a range of our most popular accompanying content, from web features to discussion guides, lesson plans and reading lists.

Lesson Plans

*Note: Lesson plans are accompanied by streaming video clips

American  Aloha

Perpetuating Indigenous Cultural Traditions in Diaspora

American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawai'i
Grades 10-12

American Aloha follows the practice of hula within communities of Native Hawaiians who have moved away from Hawai'i. Through a focus on three kumu hula (master instructors) who direct three hula schools based in California, the film explores the challenges of these groups to perpetuate hula faithfully outside of Hawai'i. Each of the kumu hula articulates not only how being away from Hawai'i impacts how they teach students, but also how they must deal with attitudes coming from Hawai'i that regard their efforts as less authentic because of where they are. Through class discussion, guided activities, and writing tasks, students will learn about conducting dialogue and debate in the arena of the politics of culture..


The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

Human Consequences of U.S. Foreign Policy Decisions

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Grades 9-12

This lesson plan is designed to be used with the film The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), which tells the story of members of a Laotian family whose father and husband helped the United States wage a so-called "secret war" in Laos during the Vietnam War, only to face imprisonment or execution after the United States withdrew its forces. This family's story represents the experiences of many Laotians and is an excellent case study for showing students how U.S. foreign policy decisions have the potential to impact generations.


The Learning

The Impact of Remittances Around the World

The Learning
Grades 9-12

In this lesson, students will watch a series of video clips that put a human face on both the process of economic decision-making and the reality for millions of people working abroad in order to transfer some of their income (remittances) to loved ones back in their home countries. Students will then research answers to questions about the impact of remittances around the world.


Last Train Home

Confucianism in a Changing Society

Last Train Home
Grades 9-12

In this lesson, students will explore how China's rapid rise as a force in the global economy has affected Chinese culture, society and the individual. Students will first discuss the influential Confucian teaching of filial piety (respect for parents) and its importance in Chinese culture. Students will then watch film clips that show how traditional family values in China are being challenged by the circumstances of Chinese migrant workers. Finally, students will consider how filial piety applies in modern China.


Enemies of the People

Perspectives From the Perpetrators of Genocide in Cambodia

Enemies of the People
Grades 9-12

In this lesson, students will hear the points of view of people from various ranks of the Khmer Rouge who participated in the killing of nearly 2 million Cambodians during Pol Pot's regime, which lasted from 1975 to 1979. Students will then speculate in writing about how hearing the truth from the perpetrators might help Cambodians heal from the tragic events of that time period. The clips used in this lesson are from the film Enemies of the People, a documentary project by a Cambodian journalist who sought to answer the question, "Why did nearly 2 million people die in the 'killing fields'?"


Web Features

Dana Kawaoka: Inspired by the Film

Fred Korematsu was probably never more American than when he resisted, and then challenged in court, the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Korematsu lost his landmark Supreme Court case in 1944, but never his indignation and resolve. Of Civil Wrongs and Rights is the untold history of the 40-year legal fight to vindicate Korematsu -- one that finally turned a civil injustice into a civil rights victory. In this feature, Dana Kawaoka, an activist and artist, presents her interpretation of the themes of exclusion and alienation evoked in the film.

Filmmaker Interview: Freida Lee Mock

The Vietnam War Memorial was one of the most controversial monuments of its time. Thrust in to the eye of the storm was architect-sculptor Maya Lin, whose design for the memorial was chosen when she was a 21-year-old college student. Withstanding bitter attacks, she held her ground with clarity and grace. In this interview recorded in 1996, Mock talks about her portrait of an artist dealing with war and history, and how she feels art has the power to heal.

Tibetan Buddhism from A-Z

This glossary accompanying My Reincarnation serves as a reference for all students studying Tibetan Buddhism. The list is compiled from Incarnation, by Tulku Thondup, © 2011 by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA .www.shambhala.com.

Video: Lao Wedding Ceremony

In this additional scene from The Betrayal, Thavi is overflowing with happiness on the day of his wedding. Watch some of the ceremony and learn more about Laotian wedding practices.


Discussion Guides & Reading Lists

On Culture, Preservation and Innovation (American Aloha)

Through a focus on three kumu hula (master instructors) who direct three hula schools based in California, the film explores the challenges of these groups to perpetuate hula faithfully, from the very traditional to the contemporary, as it evolves on distant shores. American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawai'i is a reminder of the power of claiming tradition within communities creating a home away from home. The discussion guide offers background on Hawai'I, hula and cultural preservation. The reading list provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised in American Aloha.

» Discussion Guide: American Aloha

» Reading List: American Aloha

Southest Asian Refugees in the United States
(The Betrayal (Nerakhoon))

As a classroom tool, The Betrayal offers a chance to explore the lasting human consequences that result when governments choose to wage war. As we see the members of the Phrasavath family struggle to cope with what they left behind and what confronts them in a foreign land, viewers are invited to question how the United States treats its former allies, its poor, its immigrants and its minorities. Ultimately, the film gives viewers a chance to consider what might be learned from Thavi and his family about how people continue fighting for a better future even in the face of overwhelming adversity.

» Discussion Guide: The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

» Reading List: The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

Overseas Filipino Workers (The Learning)

The Learning is the story of four Filipina women, each facing her first year in the Baltimore public schools, where learning is a two-way street marked with disappointment and inspiring breakthroughs. Declining school funding, urban poverty and crime have given these teachers a golden opportunity - and delivered rude shocks as the women are thrust into the heart of the American educational crisis. As an outreach tool, the film uses the touching lens of personal profiles to offer opportunities to examine educational issues facing urban schools, the ways that cultural differences affect classroom dynamics and the challenges faced by foreign workers in the United States who leave their families behind in order to improve their economic status.

» Discussion Guide: The Learning

» Reading List: The Learning

Introduction to Buddhism (My Reincarnation)

Though My Reincarnation is about a Buddhist leader, the film explores universal themes of family, heritage, cultural survival, growing old and growing up. The discussion guide includes background information on Buddhism, Dzogchen and reincarnation in five major world religions. The reading list provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised in the film.

» Discussion Guide: My Reincarnation

» Reading List: My Reincarnation

Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge (Enemies of the People)

Enemies of the People will help students gain a deeper understanding of genocide by providing insight into the experiences and motivations of the executioners in Pol Pot's Cambodian regime. As a classroom tool, it is a thought-provoking examination of the human capacity for atrocity, survival and healing. The discussion guide provides background information on Cambodia, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

» Discussion Guide: Enemies of the People

» Reading List: Enemies of the People

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POV documentaries can be taped off-the-air and used for education purposes for up to one year from the initial broadcast.

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