The Asian Resource Center (ARC) is giving students 31 chances this month to immerse themselves in a different culture.

The month of May is Asian Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month at UCSB, and the celebration kicks off today with an opening ceremony on the Women’s Center lawn at noon. The ARC is sponsoring a variety of cultural performances, workshops, panel discussions, a large annual Lantern Festival and other events on campus throughout the month. Alice Shin, a cultural intern at the center, said that this year’s theme is “Our moment. Our movement. Our future.” It will focus on Asian Pacific Islander history, and evolution within the community.

Shin said there are more than 30 different ethnic groups within the API community, and the heritage month hopes to bring them together to increase the visibility of Asian-American presence on campus and within the local community. Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Director of Research and Cultural Services Joe Mazares said 17 percent of UCSB’s total student population identifies as Asian Pacific Islander.

The ARC was established six years ago, and this is the organization’s fourth year putting on events for API Heritage Month, Mazares said. During the first two years, the center condensed its cultural events into one week during Spring Quarter, he said.

“We started spreading outward instead of just culture weeks during Spring Quarter,” Mazares said. “We’ve expanded the notion of heritage, maximizing the full month.”

A panel discussion titled “Queer Eye for the API” will be held in the MultiCultural Center on Wednesday, May 11. Shin said the panel would focus on queer issues within the Asian community. A Lantern Festival will be held on Friday, May 13, at 5 p.m. in Storke Plaza. It is a large annual festival, which includes cultural performances, DJs, games, food and a lantern contest, ARC cultural intern Jeffrey Liang said. A large performing arts showcase called “Double Standard” will also be held in the UCen Hub on Friday. Tickets cost $10 and will help cover the $1,500 total cost.

“We got 10 Asian-American artists from all over the West Coast, like musicians, artists, DJs and comedians,” Shin said.

The resource center has raised approximately $4,000 for all of this month’s events, Liang said.

“We raised a lot of money, like $2,000 from Finance Board and through food sales and hitting up departments on campus,” he said.

In addition to departments, Shin said the ARC also received donations from other on-campus groups, like the Student Commission on Racial Equality (SCORE) and the Office of Student Life (OSL).

“We went to A.S. Fine Arts Board [and] we got a donation from the Asian American Studies Dept.,” she said. “We’ve also asked for funding from Alternative Social Programming – part of OSL – and we got $350 from SCORE.”

Shin said she hopes attendance this year will be higher than in years past.

“I expect it to be bigger than last year because a lot of it has to do with visibility,” she said. “I feel a high awareness on campus.”