Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Affinity Group (Lotus)


Lotus is an affinity group for people who identify as (or are closely related to) Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders (AANHPI).


It is a sub-committee of the Mercer Island PTA Council's Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee and is led by parent volunteer, Christine Nakano


Purpose: The purpose of an affinity group is to provide space for people who share something in common - in this case, our culture and experiences - to connect with one another, discuss issues pertinent to our group, support one another, celebrate with each other, and advocate for one another in our larger community. By the way, did you know that Asian Americans constitute over a quarter of our district's student population?


Name: AAPI or AANHPI can be difficult to say and remember, so we have chosen to be called Lotus. The lotus, native to East Asia and the South Pacific, is a beautiful flower that grows out of muddy water. As such, it is seen by many as a symbol of hope, strength, and the ability to overcome adversity (among a number of other virtues). The stems of lotus flowers are connected, growing up out of a single, horizontal root at their base. As a group called Lotus, the hope is that we can be a community of connected individuals who help one another "to bloom" wherever we are planted and despite any adverse conditions.


Structure: Lotus is a sub-committee of the Mercer Island Parent Teacher Association (MI PTA) Council. The council is composed of representatives from each of the schools in the MI school district. Lotus serves under the oversight of the council's Vice Presidents of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), currently, Cristina Martinez and Vivian Zhou. Lotus also works with DEI leaders at each of the school PTAs and with high school students involved in such groups as The Education Coalition of Asian American Representation (ECAAR) and Student Voices for Change (SVC). Furthermore, we are aware of and in touch with groups particular to South Asians, Mandarin speakers and Korean Americans.


Activities: Following are some of the things Lotus has helped to bring about. We welcome your ideas and input as we plan for future events!

  • Supplied schools with ideas for how to celebrate Asian American Heritage Month throughout May
  • Supported a group of South Asian families as they gathered and shared feedback with district superintendent
  • Gathered families together to meet one another at various social activities
  • Organized an event to help parents who grew up in China better understand the American school system
  • Encouraged high school PTSA to provide Zoom link for parents who cannot attend meetings in person (The next one is coming up on May 15th at noon! Watch here.)

Join us!  At this time, we are collecting information as a way of determining who is out there. Simply sign up here! As news and events come up that are pertinent to this group, we will contact you to keep you informed. At any time, feel free to reach out to Christine Nakano with comments, questions and suggestions. Also, please help to spread the word and share this with others you know. 


Mercer Island Schools' DEI Pages


DEI Mission 

The Mercer Island PTA Council Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee is comprised of parent and student volunteers committed to dismantling institutional racism and other structural inequities in the district and fostering respect and acceptance of all families so that every student can reach their full potential.

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