Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Janelle Dean

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, we spoke with staff who celebrate their culture during this month to learn more about what makes this month special to them. Featured below is an interview with Janelle Dean, Mentoring Relationship Specialist:

  • What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
    • To me, AAPI Heritage Month is a special time to honor my ancestors and reconnect with my cultural identity. I lost my grandparents, who had immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines and Korea, at a young age. Because of this, I at times feel disconnected from my Filipino and Korean culture. I view this month as an intentional space to reflect on the lessons and traditions that my grandparents taught us and honor my family history. 
  • In what ways do you enjoy celebrating your heritage?
    • Similar to most, food is my favorite way to celebrate my heritage. Sinigang, a Filipino soup, is my favorite comfort meal and instantly makes me feel better. I have memories of making dumplings at my Korean grandmother’s house at a young age. My grandparents showed us love by spoiling us with food. Now as an adult, it feels special to share these meals with loved ones! I recently celebrated AAPI Heritage Month by ordering food from Asian-owned local businesses, Taste of Manila and Salamat Cookies!
  • Is there a memory or story that you would like to share in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
    • Growing up biracial, I had a hard time figuring out how my heritage fit into my life. I love that identifying as AAPI is so nuanced and that my experience differs from the next. Even within my family, my experience is vastly different than my sisters’. Going through old photos and asking my family for stories is something that I am so glad AAPI Heritage Month encouraged me to do. I feel proud to be AAPI and I feel that my grandparents would be proud of the lives we’ve built in America!

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