Honoring Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
As Baird commemorates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Baird associates reflected on their heritage and the importance of honoring their cultures.
“My maternal grandparents lived through the Sino-Japanese war and were refugees during and after the civil war in China. My grandfather was a high-ranking general in the Nationalist Chinese army and my grandmother’s family were wealthy landowners, but they never complained about all the things they lost or the many tragedies they suffered, and instead focused on how to rebuild and provide opportunities for their children elsewhere. Their experience and the values they instilled in my mother taught me that adaptability and resilience go hand in hand, and that if you really want to excel in something you must be willing to think critically about how you can do better and whether the bar you are setting for yourself is high enough.
I grew up celebrating all the major Chinese holidays. We always wore new clothes for Chinese New Year and looked forward to receiving red envelopes with money inside during large gatherings with our friends to celebrate. We also held our own Dragon Boat races for the Dragon Boat Festival and made sure we had moon cakes during the Moon Festival. Now that I have two children, I try to share those same holidays and traditions with them, in addition to making sure that they have opportunities to see and hear about all the beautiful art and history that comes from China, Taiwan and India, where my husband is from. I introduced them to Chinese Opera recently, and they can’t get enough of it because it is unlike anything they’ve seen in the U.S. and stunning to watch. I wish there were a greater appreciation for what it means for someone to immigrate here and find a way to thrive. My mother, husband and numerous other relatives are all first-generation Asian immigrants. Moving to another country where the language and culture is so different from where you grew up, where you may or may not have a support network, takes a lot of courage and determination. The fact that so many are willing to do it says a lot about the opportunity this country promises, as well as the strength of the individuals taking the risk to come here.”
Director of Client Reporting, Operations
“The recent hate towards Asian Americans is a hard reality to deal with but it is nothing compared to what has happened to the African American community. I find the hardest part of what is happening is my three kids are half-Korean and have to deal with a reality they did not create. It was not created by their generation but has to be answered by them. As a result, my wife and I are trying to equip them with the knowledge and understanding that they have the power to make positive, real change in their lifetimes.
My parents came here from Korea not knowing the language or the culture to give me and my brother a better life. I have always seen that sacrifice as one that I will never be able to pay back but need to honor as I work and live my life.”
Trading & Portfolio Analyst, Chautauqua Capital Management
“As a first generation Bangladeshi-American, sacrifice and compromise are two qualities that were instilled in me very early on. Witnessing my parents’ sacrifice in leaving everything familiar behind and compromising their goals for the sake of a better life for their children were pivotal experiences that shaped me. Naturally, I grew up trained to be a team player within my family, then at school, and eventually in the office. My Asian American heritage has helped hone my skills in playing a diplomatic role as a Corporate Relationship Manager. It is a similar experience to growing up in a big family and learning when to give and when to ask.
I wish more people understood the weight immigrant parents carry, and consequently the weight Asian American children carry, not only in pursuing their own dreams, but also giving back to their family and communities simultaneously. Something I personally engage in to keep my culture alive is sponsoring the less fortunate in my native Bangladeshi village, a special place I visit often. APA Heritage Month is a reminder to us all that we belong as contributing members of society, all whilst balancing the crossroads of various identities.”
Corporate Relationship Manager, Corporate Access
“To me, being Asian in America means appreciating life on multicultural levels and wearing many layers of identity. I am happy that Baird has always offered an environment where I can show up at work as my authentic self.
The Asian Pacific American Heritage Month represents sharing our heritage, and to be recognized as contributing our share in building America. It is not only a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the Asian American and Pacific Islander American community, but also a time to look ahead.
The ethnic makeup of America is changing at such a rapid pace that a better understanding of one another's viewpoints is becoming increasingly necessary. Although society has come to embrace cultural diversity, the recent pandemic has shown the importance of continuing to discuss diversity and inclusion.”
Business Analyst, IT - Project Services
“This month is an opportunity for me to celebrate the diversity of the Asian American Pacific Islander community while acknowledging our diverse lived experience and the many nuances of our identities.
In my family we have three generations of immigration experiences. My grandmother grew up in the Korean community in Hong Kong under Colonial rule, my father as a refugee growing up in post-war Korea and subsequent immigration to Canada, and my own journey to America. I carry my family’s courage and struggles with me every day and hope my children can learn from these experiences. This month is a great opportunity to celebrate AAPI achievements while honoring the hard work of our leaders and allies, and remembering the everyday struggles for those on the margins that continue to have challenges."
Library Manager, Investment Banking
“Being that my heritage is of Indian, Fijian and Samoan descent, representing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community means a great deal to me. Most profoundly, Kamala Harris being the first female, Indian American and Black Vice President of the United States is a huge triumph to this community. Having representation at the highest office in the U.S. has a significant impact that will reverberate for years.”
Client Specialist, Private Wealth Management
“As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month, it is important to honor the journey of our ancestors. As the granddaughter of Japanese Americans who were interned during WWII, they were resilient in their drive to overcome racial oppression. After having everything stripped away from them except what they could hold in their arms, they rebuilt their home and life and taught us that we can’t change the past and instead must persevere and look forward. I am humbled as I reflect on their experiences and hope that we can continue to gain a greater appreciation of the importance of diversity and inclusivity.”
Enterprise Initiatives Tech Lead, Operations
During May, our Prism Associate Resource Group will host firmwide events in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, including a panel discussion with several Baird associates. Moderated by Mei Robertson, the panel will feature Manish Gupta, Global Investment Banking; Caitlin Hallada, Human Resources; Amy Kobe, Baird Capital; and Derrick Li, Global Investment Banking.