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Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: A Quote a Day


In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, our Employees, Customers, community partners, legends, and leaders share their thoughts about being Asian American & Pacific Islander:

Tuesday, May 31:  “I'm really not any important leader but would like to be a role model for the young people. I am proud of my heritage and thankful that my parents came to America where my siblings and I were born.  I am proud to be an American.  I would not care to be a citizen of any other country in the world.” – Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Hershey Miyamura, Gallup, New Mexico

“I see myself as an American first, but I’m proud to be an Asian American. Coming to this country at 10 years of age, with a two-year-old sister to look after, I told myself to let go of the past, accept my new future, and take it head on.  So growing up in my adopted country, living with my adopted American family and going to my adopted American school, I learned to fully adopt this country.  I worked hard learning my new language, played football until junior year in high school, dated American girls.  I had an American childhood, even though I was the only Asian kid in my group of friends. Through my experiences, I learned to be humble, be open to learning, always look on the positive, appreciate what I have and most important of all, treat others like I want them to treat me.

“Now as an adult, I've learned that my experience was not that unique. The one year I lived in California, I learned that there are other Vietnamese-Americans who had similar experiences growing up; they now own major companies, get involved in public service, and are leaving their mark on this country.  The younger they are, the more American they become.   I am proud to be Vietnamese American in this country of opportunities and of personal freedom -- not many other countries have these beliefs.  I am proud of who I am, what I have experienced, where I have been, what I have accomplished, and what might be ahead of me in the future.” – Lam Phan McNulty, Architect (and Kim Delevett’s Big Bro and Hero), Birmingham, AL.

Monday, May 30:  “I’m proud of my Asian American heritage and being able to blend the two cultures together and to learn from each is fulfilling. I feel the values and traits of my Japanese ancestors have been instilled in me through my parents and grandparents, and I know their sacrifices paved the way for me to live the American dream.” – Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic Gold Medalist, Alamo, CA

Sunday, May 29:  “Being Asian American means practicing blending values of the greater good and independence.  It means practicing civic responsibilities such as voting and serving on juries.  It means embodying respect, reciprocity and integrity to create a compassionate, educated and
responsible society.  It means appreciating life on multicultural levels." – Leslie Moe-Kaiser, PhD, State Farm Public Affairs, Bloomington, IL

Saturday, May 28:  “As an Asian American, I have had the opportunity to be a voice of our community, which I am proud of.  For the vast majority of our more than 400 year history in America, Asian Americans played a minor role in the civic development of our great nation. In significant part, this was attributable to discrimination and perceptions of discrimination. The Pan Asian American organization that I founded, the National Asian American Coalition, is a vital part of a new and greater America. We raise our voices in the halls of Congress and among all the federal and state regulators on behalf of low income minorities, immigrants and our nation’s 18.5 million Asian Americans.” – Faith Bautista, President & CEO, National Asian American Coalition, San Bruno, CA.

Friday, May 27:  "Being Asian American is a source of great strength and tremendous responsibilities for me and the entire OCA family.  As with all communities, we are empowered to reach for the American dream by those who have come before us and their accomplishments.  Equally important is the recognition that our success is built upon the challenges that have already been overcome; and have value only if we pay it forward.  I may be an immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen, but I stand on the shoulders of those who built the intercontinental railroad, endured internment camps, and gave their lives to protect America's freedoms.  Today, being Asian American means protecting our students from being bullied, helping Gulfcoast fisherfolks build new small businesses, and helping all Americans rebuild our economy and civil discourse." – George Wu, Executive Director, OCA National, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, May 26:  “As a bilingual & bicultural Asian American, I have the privilege of understanding the east & the west, and have a wider scope to life. Never forget your roots but be open mind to the new.” – Vicky Wong, President & CEO, DAE Advertising, San Francisco

Wednesday, May 25:  “Being Asian American means I'm bicultural in an increasingly multicultural world.  And, it adds a different dimension to my life as an American.  I find it easier to navigate between my own cultural heritage and other cultures.  It's a gift that I love sharing with others.” – Bill Imada, President & CE0, IW Group Inc, Los Angeles

Tuesday, May 24:  “As a 4th generation Japanese American, my generation is holding on to our traditions. We’re so Americanized and the vast majority of my generation does not speak Japanese.” – Jeffrey Osaki, Southwest  Operations Agent, San Jose

Monday, May 23:  “Being Asian American means wearing many layers of identity. At first glance, a man of Asian ancestry. At first spoken word, an American.  At deeper reflection, a person of color in America.  At the core, a person who seeks peace and social justice.” – Eddie Wong, Executive Director, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, San Francisco

Sunday, May 22:  “Being Asian American means celebrating the contributions Asians have made to America, that have enabled America to contribute to the world.  The essence of being American is self-definition and self-realization; no other country celebrates and benefits from diversity as much as ours, and it is the key to our strength and stature.  Asian Americans should be proud of the incredible role they and their ancestors have played alongside immigrants from across the globe in building this great nation.” – Jay Chen, President Hacienda-La Puente Board of Education, Hacienda Heights, CA

Saturday, May 21:  “As a Lao American, being Lao or Asian American means embracing one’s cultural heritage and the mainstream’s, while retaining one’s personal values and beliefs.” -Vinya Sysamouth, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Lao Studies, San Francisco

Friday, May 20:  “Being Asian American means having a key to a 5,000+ year old library where the wisdom and the lessons from the past can be shared with the world.” – Wellington Chen, Executive Director Chinatown Partnership, New York

Thursday, May 19:  “Being a Pacific Islander means I am capable in positively shaping the future for myself, but more importantly for future generations around the world. My deep roots in family and islander culture helps me to stay grounded while I help others soar to new heights. Being a Pacific Islander means I am devoted to showing my islander brothers and sisters their full potential in the world and how we all matter. Being a Pacific Islander means preserving our culture while evolving with society. Being Pacific Islander means being me.” –Terrina Gogue, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies Intern, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, May 18:  “To me, being Asian American is all about identity. Only in America are race relations so highly tense, talked about, and criticized—and yet this dialogue often excludes Asian Americans, especially Southeast Asians. Becoming Asian American is a process of identity formation, exploration and recreation. It is the amalgamation of part Asian, part American, part self.  It is Thanksgiving dinner with eggrolls and stir fry. It is a discovery, but once uncovered, it is a precious gem.” - Bruce Thao, Special Projects Manager Hmong National Development & Ph.D. Student, St. Paul, MN

Tuesday, May 17:  “Being Asian American has two elements on both sides of the spectrum of feelings.  The specter of being the perpetual foreigner brings with it the issues of discrimination and bigotry.  However, the values that remain with me from my heritage and the pride that understanding that heritage gives to me helps me to overcome any of the negatives that society has chosen to inflict upon the Asian American.  I am proud of the space that Asian Americans have woven into the American tapestry.” –Floyd Mori, National Executive Director & CEO, Japanese American Citizens League, Washington, D.C.

Monday, May 16:  “To me, growing up as a Filipino-American has meant having a rich and amazing culture and heritage that I strongly identify with, and which I find very enriching to continually learn about.  Learning about the lives of my parents, my ancestors, and the other Asian cultures that I have had the fortune to grow up with, has been a large part of my identity. It's a pleasure to share what I've learned with those around me, and I look forward to passing this on to the next generation.”  –Eric Alog, Southwest Operations Agent, San Jose

Sunday, May 15:  “Being Asian American means that I come from a community that can navigate between different worlds.  At our best, we have the talent, creativity and strength to combine the best that each has to offer.” -Tuyet Le, Executive Director, Asian American Institute, Chicago

Saturday, May 14:  “To be Asian American and Pacific Islander is to be fully American while deriving strength and sharing our heritage, and to be recognized as contributing our share in building America.” -Dr. Michael Chang, Founder, Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute, Cupertino, CA.

Friday, May 13:  “Being a Pacific Islander is a great feeling for me. I am proud of who I am and the values that are instilled in me.  Some of these values are pride, integrity, and a sense of love.  And if you should ever be in SJC and ask anyone in our station family, “What do you think about Kavika?”   I think those words will best define who I am. – Kavika Tautolo, Southwest Ramp Supervisor, San Jose

Thursday, May 12:  “Being Asian American means that I am tied to generations that came before, like my father and the other men of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who sacrificed everything to create better opportunities for their families and their community. In the same way, I believe that it is my duty to give back to the community and work diligently to ensure that I am paving the way for future generations. For that reason, my work at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund is very important because it helps create opportunities for APIA students to pursue education and equip themselves with the skills needed to lead the next generation.” -Neil Horikoshi, President & Executive Director, Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, May 11:  "To me, being Asian American means being a part of a long history of people who have risen up in social movements, who have given their lives to this country, and who add to the diversity of America. It means bridging two worlds, the world of my birth and my parents' homeland-Laos-and the world that I grew up in and call home, America. It means transforming the refugee experiences of my youth into a passion for championing the rights of all people to participate in our democracy."  - Doua Thor, Executive Director, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Washington, D.C. 

Tuesday, May 10: “The poetry of small acts, tracing a shared history, the smell of cooked rice, the sight of shoes at the door, migration mixed with the tales of filial generations, being woven into the cultural fabric of everyday American life.” – Konrad Ng, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Creative Media, University of Hawaii, and Senior Adviser, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, Washington, D.C.

“What does being Asian American mean to me? It means being part of a diverse collective of people with a complimentary and sometimes conflicting history abroad and in the United States. It also means being influenced at a personal level by both India and the United States, and by the other Asian Americans.” – Pawan Dhingra, Ph.D., Museum Curator, Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Program/HomeSpun Initiative, Washington, D.C.

Monday, May 9: “My grandfather worked with Gandhi to secure India's independence, spending four years in jail.  His example helps me keep a focus on human rights in my work.  Congressman Honda is a contemporary role model for many of us.  His selfless service to the community and principled leadership is an inspiration for us all. He represents the best of what Asian Americans have to offer in public service to this country.” – Ro Khanna, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce

Sunday, May 8:  "Being a first generation Asian American immigrant to this great nation in the early 1970's clearly shaped the way I view the world around me.  I have a strong sense of obligation to share that immigrant experience and strive to work towards equal opportunities for Asian Americans and all other minorities so we can all reach our potential in our personal and professional lives." -David T. Lin, Director of Constituency Relations, AT&T, Bedminster, NJ

Saturday, May 7:  “Being Asian American means I have over two centuries history of behind me.  It's means being part of a broad and diverse community that includes history makers, bridge builders, rabble rousers, ground breakers, leaders and humanitarians. Being Asian American is being me and proud to be Asian American.” – Linda Akutagawa, SVP Resource and Business Development, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Los Angeles

Friday, May 6: “Asian Pacific American Month is a great time to reflect on the accomplishments and contributions Asian Americans have provided for this great country.  I am very proud of the values that both cultures, Indian and American, have instilled in me.  And, I hope to pass on the positive elements of both to future generations to come.”  -Rishi Mehta, Southwest Airlines Manager of Online Products, Dallas

Thursday, May 5:  “It was really during the fight for Ethnic Studies at Cal that I learned a lot about my family’s history, why it was divided, and the Chinese Exclusion Act that kept families apart. People know me as this nice, middle-aged, Asian American elected official. They have no idea of the kind of movements I worked on when I was younger and the kinds of changes that have happened. Today we see more and more elected Asian-American officials, mayors like myself and Ed Lee in San Francisco, when a generation ago our community was really fighting for representation. It was the connection to the civil rights struggle broadly that made a difference in people’s lives.” – Oakland Mayor Jean Quan

Wednesday, May 4:  “I am proud to be an American born in Philadelphia to Chinese immigrants and able to share my Chinese heritage and Chinese American experience with my friends and the greater society. I'm able to blend the best of both cultures to help the U.S. become a truly unique multicultural society.  APA Month is an opportunity to inform and educate all Americans about the significant historical contributions Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders have made to this country.  It is also an opportunity to inform this nation about the current contributions we are making whether in the arts, the political arena or in the economic arena, to name a few fields.  My hope is that this nation celebrates the richness that Asian Pacific Islander Americans contribute to this great nation of ours 365 days a year and not just in the month of May.” – Daphne Kwok,   Executive Director, Asians & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California, San Francisco

Tuesday, May 3:  “What does being Asian American mean to me?  It means that I am at the right place at the right time.  America is a young country and making great strides as a leader of the free world.  Asia is an ancient civilization that can be credited with many innovations from paper, fireworks, art, music, philosophy, etc.  The fusion of these two cultures has given me pride to be an Asian American...besides who could not like Chinese food!” – Ruby G. Moy, Senior Advisor, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, Washington, D.C.  Ruby spearheaded the legislation to designate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month; the bill was sponsored by the late Congressman Frank Horton and then-Congressman Norman Y. Mineta.

Monday, May 2:  "Each May, our nation pays tribute to the contributions of generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) who have enriched our history. In this nation founded by immigrants, AAPIs have made a mark on our national landscape -- providing labor for important national infrastructure such as the Transcontinental Railroad, creating jobs for all Americans through entrepreneurship, and offering leadership in the business, government, and civic sectors.  Asian Pacific American Heritage month is not only a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the AAPI community, but also a time to look ahead. The Census recently released a report that the ‘Asian alone’ population grew faster than any other major race group between 2000-2010, increasing by 43 percent. There is no doubt that as the population of the AAPI community continues to grow, we will increasingly play a critical role in contributing to the economic, political, and social developments of this country.  Each of the 45 distinct ethnic groups and 28 language groups has contributed and will continue to contribute to the fabric of our nation.

"When I was young, I lived at Camp Amache, a Japanese-American internment camp in southeast Colorado during World War II. One of the first lessons I learned was that being Japanese carried a negative connotation in America.  My parents raised me talking about the injustices of camp, how it was a violation of the Constitution, and how Japanese Americans had been mistreated. I've since followed in their footsteps by advocating for social justice and publically serving communities that do not have a voice. The reason we were sent to camp is because no one in Washington said no. I’m here in Congress to make sure that never happens again to any community in America.” – Congressman Mike Honda, (CA-District 15)