Meaningful Conversations: Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month at PRR

June 14, 2022
Virtual conversations.
To say that [the panel] was a gift, would be an understatement. I learned. I laughed. I teared up. I cheered! Thank you for the opportunity to hear your stories. - Attendee

May marked  the official celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander, or AAPI, heritage in the United States and is an annual celebration of the historical and cultural contributions of AAPI people.

Many staff at PRR have AAPI roots and are full of unique stories and experiences that shape their identity in both their workplace and personal lives. During the month of May, PRR invited all staff to celebrate the experiences and contributions of their colleagues, their communities, and all AAPI communities, through relationship-building, proactive learning, and collective action.

Often, AAPI people are lumped together in the same ethnic category, but the term AAPI encompasses cultures from the entire Asian continent, comprising folks with backgrounds from Southern and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Western Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Each of these groups is comprised of its own unique culture, language, and history.

Encouraging awareness, growth, and learning

PRR encouraged awareness, growth, and learning during AAPI Heritage Month with the following activities, led by the AAPI Heritage Month planning team.

  • Cultural panel discussion featuring AAPI employee stories
  • Inviting external speakers to speak about the history of Mukai Farms on Vashon Island in Washington State
  • Field trips to Asian American museums in both of PRR’s office locations
  • Newsletters featuring educational resources

These activities amplified AAPI staff voices through storytelling, raised awareness about the history of the AAPI community and important issues they face, and fostered a space for staff to learn more about the AAPI community through available resources.

Inspiring ethnic authenticity  in the workplace  

We understand that in our society, not everyone feels comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. At PRR, we embrace our company values and strive to create a place where we can bring our authentic selves to work and celebrate diversity of thought.

Panelists explore their heritage

On May 26, PRR hosted a panel discussion, composed of a handful of our AAPI staff, aimed at creating a space for storytelling.

With such a diverse group of panelists, we learned more about the importance of representation, the complexity  of embracing culture in daily life, the harmful impacts stereotypes and misconceptions have on the AAPI community, and how culture brings joy.

In the end, all our panelists agreed that there is no such thing as a good stereotype, the model minority is a myth, and food is a great opportunity to share your culture, educate and learn with people, and bond with family.

What we experienced

I loved that [the panel] turned into a space of storytelling, which I personally find more impactful in learning the beauty, pain, and everything in between BIPOC folks experience.  - Panelist

PRR Seattle Visits the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District
PRR Seattle Visits the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District

To say that [the panel] was a gift, would be an understatement. I learned. I laughed. I teared up. I cheered! Thank you for the opportunity to hear your stories. - Attendee

A valuable field trip

Field trips are valuable to people of all ages! It’s a good opportunity to get out of your regular environment, soak up new knowledge, and experience subjects, like the arts, that are frequently absent from the workplace.

On May 20, PRR Seattle staff took a trip to the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District to connect with the dynamic history, cultures, and art of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The Wing Luke Museum has multiple exhibits with vivid storytelling and inspiring experiences that highlight authentic experiences and perspectives.

On May 21 and 22, our East Coast staff attended the National Gallery of Asian Art in Washington, DC, where they had the opportunity to experience some of the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by learning from a display of over 45,000 objects dating from the Neolithic period to today and originating from the ancient Near East to China, Japan, Korea, South and Southeast Asia, and the Islamic world.

Continuous learning  

To encourage PRR staff to learn and educate themselves, all staff were invited to contribute and share educational resources, upcoming events, movies, social media, podcasts, and more! All shared resources were added to a single document that was shared across PRR.

Making it Meaningful

Though May is dedicated to the celebration of AAPI Heritage, the AAPI community and their experiences are part of their identity . This month, we brought authenticity, grace, and empathy to further create a space where our colleagues can show up as, and embrace, their ethnic authenticity.  

Thank you to our planning team and all who participated in the month’s events. We couldn’t make it meaningful without you!

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