How this group makes sure Louisville's Asian community is seen and heard

While attending the Kentucky State Fair in the '60s, Helen Lang, founder of the Asia Institute-Crane House, saw a need to educate the community about her heritage after being "examined" by attendees.

"This was a time where there were not many Asians (in Kentucky), so she felt like she was being examined like many of the quilts and baked goods," Joel Buno, executive director of the Asia Institute Crane House, told The Courier Journal. "A lot of people back then didn't know what Asians were about and what they looked like so she started this non-profit to educate our local community on Asia and Asian cultures."

Established as the China Institute, the name was later changed to the Asia Institute-Crane House to recognize all Asian cultures, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Indian. As a community resource that promotes the understandingof Asian cultures and heritage through education, outreach and the arts, the Asia Institute Crane House also supports the local Asian community and its businesses through learning opportunities and experiences.

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According to theWorld Population Review,the Asian community makes up 2.67% of the Louisville population.

That education and outreach have been increasingly important as the Crane House continues to advocate for the health and safety of its community members as violence against the Asian American community continues to rise across the country. Compared to 2019, violence against the Asian American community rose 339% last year, according to theWorld Population Review.

"Nationwide, the uptake has increased 129% (this year)," Buno said. "In our region, we've asked our local FBI and the Louisville Metro Police Department and we've had zero reports of hate crimes (this year) but that doesn't mean it's not happening."

Most of the time, these types of "hate crimes" go unreported or are reported incorrectly, Buno said. Still, even with no formal reports of hate crimes lodged with LMPD in 2022, there have been several incidents of microaggressions toward individuals in the community in the past few years.

Along with the Mayor Greg Fischer's Office of Globalization and the World Affairs Council, the Crane House and other Asian social groups, such as the Vietnamese Association of America, hosted a Stop Asian Hate Town Hall during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic to discuss Asian hate, how to identify Asian hate crimes and what to do in the case that this happens.

"The number one place you need to go to is your local police department and you do that through making a report through Metro Call 311," Buno said of reporting potential instances. "You can speak to them and they also help people who don't speak English as a first language. They can identify the crime and direct you to the right department."

The Crane House continues to educate the community about these issues and encourages them to learn about Asian cultures through itsprograms and events that showcase Asian representation in the community.

The Crane House, 1244 S. Third St., hosts several programs showcasing Asian events and traditions to help further educate others about the many diverse cultures represented in Louisville, including Teach in Asia, Crane House Young Professionals, a Spring Gala and Summer Mandarin Camp, among others.

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In 2023, the longstandingTeach in Asia program, which recruits 12 to 13 local educators and teachers from the Louisville community and sends them to Asia for the summer, will resume. When the teachers return, they bring back the language and history of Asia they were taught over the summer and bring it into theirclassroom to teach to their students.

Several other programs, such as the Summer Mandarin StarTalk program, teach Asian languages to students that attend a school without Asian languages in their foreign language programs.

Crane House Young Professionalsis another awareness and education program offered thataims to unite and strengthen the Asian community in Louisville and Southern Indiana by connecting professionals and mentors with students.

"Overall, with these young professionals, after they graduate and move to a new city … they're really searching for that group to start and help them feel (like) a Louisvillian," Amber Ma, programs coordinator, said. "We want to provide that safe space for everyone and give them the ins and outs to what it means to be an Asian in Louisville because there's not a lot of us."

Each program at the Crane House is connected back to its namesake, the crane. In Asian cultures, the crane represents wisdom, regalness and longevity, a representation the Asia Institute-Crane House has continued to portray over the span of 35 years.

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Buno encouraged anyone curious about the Asia Institute Crane House to check out its various events and programs at

"We are very fortunate that we get to place ourselves in the best path due to the support of the community, and we want to make sure that the Asian community is seen and heardhere and we continue to do that within our programs and events," Buno said.

Reach Features Reporter Genesis Malone at

Upcoming events at the Asia Institute Crane House

Movie Night: 'Xiaodi'

WHAT: The Asia Institute Crane House will present “Xiaodi," in a free screening hosted by the AICH and Noble Funk Brewing Co. In the documentary-style film, a young trans girl escapes from a conversion therapy camp in China.

WHERE: Noble Funk Brewing Co., 922 S. Second St.

WHEN: Aug.11, 6-9:30 p.m.

COST: Free


Health and Wellness Seminar

WHAT: The Asia Institute Crane House will host its second Health and Wellness Seminar Session which includes peaceful and tranquil spaces, blood pressure screenings and Medicare enrollment discussion. Lunch is also provided.

WHERE: Louisville Chinese Christian Church, 6120 Lovers Lane

WHEN: Aug.13, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

COST: Free


This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Asia Institute-Crane House Louisville educates others on Asian culture