Reflecting and Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Throughout May, we celebrate the many generations of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who have enriched America's history. AAPI Heritage Month is celebrated each May in the U.S. It began as a way to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to the United States in 1843 and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The majority of construction workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
In 1992, our celebration of AAPI heritage expanded from a week-long recognition into a month. In this month’s Be a Pillar, DPR employees reflect on their backgrounds and experiences and how this has shaped them, both in their careers and personal lives.
How has your heritage shaped you?
"In thinking about my ethnic and cultural background, as well as experiences, one of the main draws from my family, friends and community that has shaped me into the person I am today, is the notion of hospitality. It is a living, breathing entity that allows us to make people feel at home, understand and accept different perspectives, and extend goodwill to all who are willing to receive it.
Hospitality permeates through my approach at work by asking questions and approaching it from multiple angles. We all have a different lens we each live and see from; it is the allowance of everyone to co-exist. It influences my work since I tend to approach topics with a customer service mindset. Hospitality continues to influence my work as I am passionate about helping, whether it be related to people or projects."
Natasha Ashar, Project Manager
"Family is considered the foundation of social life for most Filipinos. While my immediate family was the core family unit, I also had a strong bond with my extended family members. In fact, it even extended to distant relatives and non-relatives, and I would often call the parents of my Filipino friends, 'auntie' or 'uncle.'
The sense of belonging and being a part of a team or 'family' is what shapes me. DPR has definitely provided me many opportunities to experience this. When it comes to work and those that I engage with, I feel secure and supported because those people provide a sense of acceptance, inclusion and identity. I am able to bring my authentic self to work and perform at my very best knowing that I matter and am valued as a team member."
Rena Goudey, Safety Manager
"Growing up as a first-generation immigrant from Indonesia, the cultural and familial values of respect for elders, obedience and following the rules were monumental in my developing years. My parents risked a lot when it came to giving up what they had and knew, from their homes, jobs, family, language, etc., to provide for a more promising future for me and my siblings. From this risk, came the lofty and well-thought-out expectations that were established for me and my siblings: to do well in school, attend college (and study in a field that they would consider lucrative and stable), and ultimately, have a high-paying job that would not force us to ever have to make the risks they did. Deviance or challenge to these steps would not have been easily accepted, let alone celebrated.
These principles and clear expectations undoubtedly have been the main driving factor when it comes to how I approach my work: I naturally am a rule-follower, not a challenger; a thinker before being a doer; and more of an observer than a commander. Although there is much value to these things, I am constantly working to step out of my comfort zone by speaking up and sharing my thoughts and opinions in a bold and courageous way. There is a lot to 'un-learn' and 're-learn' here in terms of my natural approach on things, but through self-compassion and assurance, I am constantly improving as a husband, father and DPR employee."
Vedo Evantanto, Senior Project Engineer
Celebrate and Honor AAPI Heritage?
Learn about the rich history of AAPI contributions and the challenges this community has faced. Start with these resources:
Photos: Austin Tepper, David Hardman, Amanda Komar
Posted on May 12, 2023
Last Updated July 24, 2023