As a Filipina American, I have been a member of the Gates Asians in Philanthropy (GAP) employee resource group (ERG) for over five years. I’m so proud to be a part of GAP—a very active, vibrant, and diverse community of individuals who come from different backgrounds. Over the last few years, we have hosted many foundation-wide cultural events such as the Lunar New Year, the Indian Harvest Festival, the Eid celebration, and Diwali. Ultimately, our visibility helps to increase awareness of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures and elevate issues facing our communities.
As we close out AANHPI Heritage Month, we asked a couple of our GAP members to share what inspires them and how those inspirations influence the way they celebrate Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Kristin has been at the Gates Foundation for 8 years and is an officer in our Strategy, Planning, and Management division. Kristin shares the way she celebrates Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month:
In the early 1800’s my family made their way from China to Hawai’i, where we have been ever since. I grew up in a melting pot of cultures, celebrating a hodge-podge of cultural celebrations across many ethnicities. In school I learned about Hawaiiana and the illegal annexation of the Hawaiian Monarchy, and we sang Hawaiian songs and learned the hula. I have uncles who are Samoan or Hawaiian, and aunties that are Irish or Korean. I still don’t know when my dad says, 'Oh that’s my cousin!' if it’s his cousin by blood or by Hawai’i. This was the Hawai’i I grew up with.
During AANHPI month, now that Native Hawaiians are being explicitly identified, I hope their under-represented population can now be seen and the inequities of how they were treated can come to light. I hope that the home I hold so dear will have a chance to be celebrated and appreciated for what it is: A culture based on history, family, community, and most importantly, Aloha.
Nushina has been at the Gates Foundation for 11 years and is a senior program officer in our Global Policy & Advocacy division. Nushina shares the way she celebrates Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month:
"To me the AANHPI month is a time to reflect upon, celebrate, and honor the remarkable role of the AANHPI community in our nation’s history. 23 million Americans are part of the AANHPI community, which includes roughly 50 ethnic groups with roots in 40 countries. AANHPI month falls in May to mark several historical milestones including the 1843 arrival of the first Japanese immigrants and Chinese laborers’ contributions to building the transcontinental railroad, which was finished in May 1869."
Kelsey Gurtiza is Program Coordinator, Strategy, Planning and Management on the North America Team