Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month honors and commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7,1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10,1869. It was first introduced in 1977 as a week-long event, and it was later extended to a month-long celebration in1990.
AAPI Heritage Month is dedicated to celebrating the cultures, traditions, and histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. During this month, we reflect on the tremendous contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made.
As we honor the trailblazers of our past, we must forge the way to our future with more AAPI members around every table. This month, we will be drawing attention to just a few trailblazers and heroes at TeamSnap who deserve a round of applause.
Bria Jones, Technical Content Manager
Bria shares her experience on growing up as a bi-racial Korean-American (watch the interview here). Additionally, Bria kindly shared some photos for your viewing pleasure.
“When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it.”― Yo-Yo Ma
The commerative photo refers to the number 100 traditionally having a deep meaning of maturity in Korea; making it past the first 100 days was a sign that you would live to see your first birthday, and making it past your first birthday was a sign that you would make it out of infancy.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, where the contributions and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are honored and recognized. First introduced in 1977, it began as a week-long celebration, and later in 1990, became a month-long celebration. With over 20 million Asians living in America, and 1.4 million Pacific Islanders, this is the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in the U.S.
As you can see, there are many opportunities to keep the month fun and exciting. As a reminder, we are always looking for TeamSnappers to join our employee resource group (ERG) events. We’re so lucky we have had several volunteers step up to share their voices, experiences and time to help us with the upcoming month of programming. Some of the great things you can expect this May:
All of us are born with a creative gene. You heard that right, every person has the ability to be creative. According to a study conducted by NASA, 1,600 4-5-year-old kids scored a 98% at “creative genius” level. When those kids were observed five years later, only 30% of that group of children scored a 98%, and another five years later those kids scored just 12%. What this shows is that over time, creativity drops. When adults were tested, they scored just a 2% “creative genius” level. Now, what are some ways we can encourage our children to tap into their creative side and even learn a thing ourselves along the way? Creativity and sport often go hand in hand; as young athletes are constantly put in situations to creatively get by defenders, try new moves, and evade pressure. While sports can have creative moments, there are many young athletes who turn to art, music, and writing to reduce their sport-related stress and change up their routine away from the fields, courts, and rinks.
In celebration of AAPI month, at TeamSnap we’ve tapped into our inner child creativity and found ourselves eager to learn about AAPI athletes and what kind of art, music, and other creative endeavors they are passionate about. We hope that through these athletes sharing their stories, as a company and a TeamSnap community we can all learn more about other cultures and activate our creative gene present in all of us.
Earlier this week, TeamSnap employees had the opportunity to learn about origami from Hiro Nakanishi (Making 1000 Paper Cranes Together (https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/1673343), an Airbnb Online Experience). The history of origami cranes goes back about 200 years in Japan; however, the symbolism of cranes for longevity and peace originally came from China. This stems from the proverb, “tsuru wa sennen kame wa mannen,” which translates to “a crane lives for a thousand years, a tortoise ten thousand years.” Because of this, when a loved one is ill or in the hospital, their family and friends will make paper cranes, wishing them a quick recovery. Additionally, it is estimated that a whooping 40 tons of paper cranes are sent each year to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park as a symbol of peace and a wish for a world without war. After learning about the rich culture of origami and paper cranes, we had the opportunity to make our own paper cranes under Hiro’s instruction—all the way from Nara, Japan!
TeamSnap got to hear from former and current Asian American elite athletes about their experiences playing sports, challenging moments they faced around race and belonging, how they stay connected to their heritage, and any advice for young athletes.
Peter Panousopoulos, Filipino/Greek, Basketball, Founder of Parkway Hoops, Brooklyn, NY
Have you ever faced any challenges in sports because of your race?
High school was funny. I didn’t look anywhere similar to anyone no matter where I was. My school team was mostly black. I think I can recall playing against just one other Asian in four years. And this was the CHSAA, probably the most competitive HS basketball league in New York City. There just weren’t many playing at the time.
I played in a Filipino league where I was classified as ‘white.’ Certain crowds would heckle you for being of mixed ethnicity, and try to ostracize you for not being ‘real’ Filipino. I let that drive me a little bit, because the taunts got to a point where my mother didn’t want to come to those games anymore.
I also played in a league for players of Greek heritage. Those games were probably the worst, but funniest looking back at it. Some coaches didn’t even bother getting the country right. My father actually coached that team. I remember us dying laughing on the way home after a game as he told me about his conversation with the other team’s coach prior to warmups.
“You still have that Chinese kid on your team?”
“You mean my son?”
What are some creative activities that you turn to outside of basketball?
“Music always was my outlet. You could always find me with headphones on, playing an instrument, and writing. When I was tense before a game, I’d sometimes watch some old standup routines on YouTube just to stay loose.”
Are there any parts of your heritage that you feel particularly proud and connected to?
“Definitely food. It was always part of basketball. The aunties used to pack the rice cookers on the charter bus right next to our duffel bags. When we won, we’d throw these giant victory partities that were these big FIlipino cookouts with the music bumping, it was the best.”
Do you have any advice for young athletes who are Asian American?
“‘Love for the game’ is something that I’ve understood more as I got older. I’ve come to appreciate a little better what basketball has given me: the connections, seeing the world, the highs and the lows of the entire journey. For anyone who feels like they’re on the outside looking in, remind yourself of the greatest things you’ve experienced playing the game that you love – and know that’ll only get better from here.”
We encourage you to take some time to recognize and reflect on some of the impactful ways members of the AAPI community have helped to shape technology, sports and the world. Have questions about our other Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)? Contact our People Experience Team at email@example.com.
Learn more about how we’re building community at TeamSnap in our Culture Playbook.