This Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 25, Elmo, Abby Cadabby and the rest of the gang are making a new friend: Ji-Young — a seven-year-old Korean American character performed by Sesame Workshop puppeteer Kathleen Kim. Ji-Young makes her debut in a special celebrating the rich diversity of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities, “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special,” which will air Thursday, Nov. 25 at 9 p.m. on Arizona PBS KIDS.
Designed for families to watch together, “See Us Coming Together” follows the “Sesame Street” friends through a “Neighbor Day” celebration with new friend Ji-Young. Celebrity guests like actors Simu Liu and Anna Cathcart, comic book artist Jim Lee, chef Melissa King, television personality Padma Lakshmi, and athlete Naomi Osaka join in, too, sharing their passions, talents, and cultures with their Sesame Street friends. The “Neighbor Day” celebration culminates with a new original song, also entitled “See Us Coming Together,” led by Ji-Young and performed by the full cast. A reimagined version of “Sesame Street” classic, “The People in Your Neighborhood,” reinforces that children of all backgrounds can be anything they want to be.
“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to help kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Today, we uphold that mission by empowering children and families of all races, ethnicities and cultures to value their unique identities,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop’s Executive Vice President of Creative and Production. “’See Us Coming Together’ continues Sesame Street’s proud legacy of representation with an engaging story that encourages empathy and acceptance and uplifts Asian and Pacific Islander communities.”
As part of Sesame Workshop’s “Coming Together” initiative — created to support families of all backgrounds through ongoing conversations about race — the special also includes an opportunity for talking about anti-Asian racism. (In an offscreen incident, another child tells Ji-Young to “go home.” This is an example of one kind of discrimination Asian and Pacific Islander people face in western countries where they’re often perceived as “perpetual foreigners.” After the incident, Ji-Young seeks out trusted grown-ups and friends who unite to help her know that she’s exactly where she belongs.) To help guide those conversations, a viewing guide and accompanying activities for adults and children to complete together will become available at sesame.org/seeus the week of the special.
“It’s a powerful thing when kids see people like themselves represented on screen and in stories — it supports them as they figure out who they are and who they want to be,” said Alan Muraoka, longtime “Sesame Street” cast member and co-director of “See Us Coming Together.” “We can’t wait for families to get to know Ji-Young — in this special and in future seasons of ‘Sesame Street’ — and celebrate some of the Asian and Pacific Islander people in our neighborhood!”
“This is a proud moment for AAPIs everywhere, particularly Korean Americans, as Ji-Young and the ‘See Us Coming Together’ special demonstrate that Asian Americans are part of the very fabric of American society and culture,” said Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Board Member, The Asian American Foundation. “At TAAF, we are striving to help create a permanent and irrevocable sense of belonging for AAPIs in this country, and supporting Sesame Workshop’s introduction of the first-ever Asian American ‘Sesame Street’ Muppet brings us one step closer toward making that vision a reality. We are grateful for their partnership and their commitment to supporting AAPI communities.”
Additional videos and articles for adults cover the building blocks of what racial justice can mean for young children. For more information — including more viewing guides and activities to complete together — please visit sesame.org/seeus.
- “Let’s Go Luna” conversation starters on exploring other cultures
- An Educator’s Guide to Expanding Narratives about American History & Culture*
- Asian Americans: PBS LearningMedia*
*Please note, these materials are geared toward children in fourth grade or above