Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Jackie Lai

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 Jackie Lai, Senior Director of Community Engagement and JEDI Initiatives:

  • What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
    • My parents are first-generation immigrants from Taiwan, and we grew up with a strong connection to Taiwan – visiting every year since I was born until the latter years of high school. I also grew up going to Chinese School every Sunday from elementary through high school, and we had a group of Taiwanese-American families who would always meet up to have potluck dinners once per month. Part of what makes America special is that people can co-exist with differing backgrounds and perspectives, and each person is recognized for what they bring to the table. AAPI Heritage Month may seem like a symbol, but it’s special to have a moment to stop, reflect on, and appreciate your heritage and the culture that you grew up with.

  • In what ways do you enjoy celebrating your heritage?
    • As I’ve grown up, I’ve enjoyed visiting local Asian grocery stores to grab familiar snacks, drinks, or food that remind me of Taiwan. As you get older, it’s tougher to take time to travel out of the country, and food always remains a strong way to remember and celebrate your heritage.  I’ve also had special gatherings with my friends to make our own dumplings or try a new food that reminds me of Taiwan, especially when we get close to Lunar New Year. To have a great support system of friends and family that embraces my culture feels like the best celebration of all.

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