Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month — a month dedicated to reflecting on the legacy of generations of Asian & Pacific Islander Americans throughout history and celebrating the cultural heritages of Asian Americans that continue to enrich our country. AAPI (Asian American & Pacific Islander) is a short acronym that encompasses a broad range of rich and unique cultures. The diversity of this group brings differing needs, experiences, and perspectives that we are committed to representing and supporting in both our customer base and employee population.
The national theme of 2022’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month is “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.” This month, we are interviewing the new leadership board of Asianhood, an Employee Resource Group at Robinhood. Asianhood has a mission to promote and celebrate Asian perspectives, cultures, and professional development, and foster a supportive community for Asian-Pacific people and allies.
The Asianhood ERG leadership team is made up of talented and inspiring Robinhoodies from across departments who exemplify leadership through collaboration, by educating, mentoring, and creating a supportive network for our AAPI Robinhoodies and allies. This month, they have an enriching calendar of events for Asianhoodies and allies with weekly themes of Asian Destinations, Asian Wisdom, Leadership, & Activism, Asian Arts & Media, and Asian Communities Culture Sharing.
Let’s meet some of the newest leaders in Asianhood: Sanha Lim (Software Engineer, Co-Lead of Asianhood), Siwen Tang (Benchmarking & Strategy Senior Associate, Co-Lead of Asianhood), Amber Hickey (Treasury Analyst, Community Liaison of Asianhood), Brittany Jacques (Customer Experience Representative, Communication Lead of Asianhood), Chenyu Yan (Engineering Manager, Social Event Coordinator of Asianhood), and David Long (Software Engineer, Event Lead of Asianhood).
Can you share your perspectives on the meaning and importance of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
Sanha: These days, I think a lot about space. Living in the Bay Area, visiting San Francisco, I viscerally feel the lack of space — sweaty arms pushing through a BART train and monthly rent payments that make me want to cry. It’s also true figuratively. In news, popular discourse, and social media, there’s so many things competing for our attention that it’s banal to point it out. AAPI Heritage Month is a time where we grab some space to talk, to celebrate, and figure out how to move forward together. These past few years, Asian Americans have collectively shouted “Let us join the conversation!” and bit by bit, we grabbed our seat at the table. This Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, in particular, is a time to regroup and figure out how we want to amplify voices to truly reflect the diversity within the AAPI community. .
Siwen: AAPI Heritage Month is a perfect time to reflect on the culture and traditions of the AAPI communities. However, meaningful celebrations and conversations should take place on an ongoing basis and on a larger scope. Our mission is to foster that process by carrying the values and learnings of this special month forward, connecting and supporting each other in both day-to-day activities and professional settings.
Brittany: In grade school, I would look forward to May because it is AAPI Heritage Month. It was a way for me to feel connected to my heritage and learn about famous people throughout history that created a voice for the community. Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month promotes the awareness, inclusion, and diversity of the AAPI community in addition to providing a larger platform to amplify Asian voices.
Amber: The importance of AAPI Heritage Month is appreciating the richness and diversity within the AAPI community. Growing up, I experienced an internal conflict about what it means to be part of the Asian community, and like many others I felt a gap in understanding of ‘where I fit’ culturally. From engaging conversations and continued learning, I can appreciate the blend of human I am and connect with others on what makes this blend so special.
What is your favorite tradition, holiday, food, or custom that your culture celebrates?
Brittany: I love most Korean dishes, but tteokbokki (a dish consisting of soft chew rice and fish cakes, covered in a spicy gochujang sauce) is one of my favorites. Every visit to Seoul, my mom would stop at a street vendor and buy it for me. This dish reminds me of my grandparents and my childhood when harabeoji and I would walk hand in hand to get some tteokbokki.
Chenyu: My favorite food is hotpot. I love to have hotpot together with my family or my friends, which often becomes a fond memory.
Amber: My favorite sweet food is gulab jamun, a traditional Pakistani dessert, my Dadhie (grandmother) used to make every year for my birthday and, a few years ago, I learned to make them for my younger brother’s birthday to carry on the tradition. There is so much love and comfort around food and the memories it holds. One special memory I always cherish is when my Dadhie would joke that she forgot to make the gulab jamun — just before heartily laughing and removing them from her hiding space. She always made them with love and you could taste it!
David: My favorite holiday is Chinese New Year. Similarly to Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is a good time for families to gather together, share memories over food, and celebrate.
Tell us a little bit about your heritage. How has it shaped the person you are today?
Brittany: My mother immigrated from South Korea at the age of 21 and at the time she did not speak much English, navigating a foreign culture and learning along with her children. Growing up, we had to fight to stay connected to our heritage as our mother was our only link to our Korean heritage. As an adult, I still feel that struggle from time to time, but I believe it has made me more appreciative and proud of my culture.
David: I’m 2nd generation American-born Chinese. I was lucky enough to have lived in China for a few years and it has allowed me to notice and appreciate the differences in schooling, thinking, culture, and way of living. For me, Asian American & Pacific Islander Month is a time to be proud of the many different Asian cultures and celebrate how diverse we are.
How do you plan to celebrate your heritage and culture this month?
Sanha: I love cooking! My AAPI Heritage Month celebration looks a lot like kimchi stew boiling on the stove or a quick egg and tomato over rice. Food is a love language I know well and it’s one that hopefully I can celebrate, not just at home, but with the Asianhood community. Outside of that, I think that I want to honor all the leaders, activists, and teachers that have done so much for the Asian community here in the United States.
Siwen: This year, our Asianhood ERG has planned weekly celebrations of four different themes. The objective of this series of events is not only connecting Robinhoodies in the AAPI communities, but also sharing our cultures, histories, and Asian wisdoms with the whole Robinhood community. The calendar consists of an event highlighting different Asian religions, a boba tea-making workshop, a trivia night, and more. As for me personally, I plan to study various Asian countries’ histories and cultures this month and connect with Robinhoodies from those backgrounds.
The Asianhood Employee Resource Group is incredibly impactful in the lives of Robinhoodies. What gets you excited about the work that Asianhood has done at Robinhood and has in store for the rest of the year?
Sanha: Asianhood is a relatively new ERG, but it’s already made such a big impact at Robinhood. Our previous leaders did a great job making sure our events were a place to learn, gather, and have fun. One particular event I remember is when we had a songpyeon event as part of our Mid-Autumn Festival celebration. We were all shipped a kit with flour, coloring, and filling and even virtually, I could see how much people were enjoying learning how to make rice cakes. I personally made it with my niece and nephews and was grateful that I could share something I did in my childhood, even though we were so far from Korea.
Siwen: I’m excited about the opportunity to serve on the Asianhood board because it’s a channel to unite everyone in these backgrounds, learn from each other, and drive meaningful change together. As Robinhood continues to democratize finance for all, I’m also excited about the impact we could potentially have on making our products more inclusive and culturally relevant.
Amber: The community, growth and support from others who are willing to share or also on the same journey as me is so comforting. I’m newer to Robinhood and joining the Asianhood leadership board was such an exciting opportunity. Each week, we have been celebrating AAPI Heritage Month with a different fun event for our Asianhood community. Our aim is to engage, educate, celebrate, and encourage everyone to join us!
Read more about Asianhood and all of Robinhood’s Employee Resource Groups.
We are always looking for more individuals who share our commitment to building a diverse team and creating an inclusive environment as we continue in our journey in democratizing finance for all. Check out our open positions — we can’t wait to hear from you!
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