Belong @ DataRobot: AAPI Heritage Month with the ACTnow! Community
May marks the celebration of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Also known as Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, it is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, histories, and contributions of these communities. The AAPI community is composed of people with roots in more than 20 countries and regions, spanning from East Asia to Southeast Asia, South Asia to the Pacific Islands. They represent a wide range of languages, religions, traditions, and experiences.
This month, the DataRobot ACTnow! (Asians Coming Together Now) community honors their legacy and celebrates this month with spotlight programs of our employees and inspirational figures, as well as educational materials to learn more about the history of AAPI and to appreciate our familial origins.
I identify as an Asian-American since I’m part Japanese from my mother and part American from my father. Growing up, I remember visiting my Japanese side of the family during summer vacation for family get-togethers to pray for our ancestors and for summer activities, such as fireworks at our house in the countryside. Another unique skill of being an Asian-American is communicating in a native Asian language, which for me, is Japanese. I’m fortunate to be able to keep up my Japanese fluency, and I believe it’s important to have non-English conversations with friends, family, and locals, especially the elderly. Having an awareness and understanding of one’s culture and family background helps us better understand the origins of who we are today.
In the spirit of sharing stories from the AAPI community at DataRobot, please meet Angie Bonin, Director of Field Marketing and Global Events and Experiences. Here, she shares her heritage with us and how it has impacted her life.
Angie Bonin, Director, Field Marketing and Global Events & Experiences
I am both of Chinese and Hawaiian descent. In both cultures, family is extremely important, especially respecting your elders. My grandfather was 100% Chinese, and my grandmother was 50% Hawaiian. They met in Hawai’i. Both have since passed, but I always try to remember history through their eyes. When my grandpa was young, he lived in Hawai’i and watched the bombing of Pearl Harbor from his rooftop. He later served in the USMC with tours in both Korea and Vietnam where he was an engineer and built bridges. He is currently laid to rest at The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawai’i, and my grandmother will be buried with him there later this month. It’s important to look at the historical events of our country, the outcomes, and how it has affected and shaped the lives of individuals in the AAPI community through generations.
One core memory is from when I was in 5th grade. Because I am of Native Hawaiian descent, I was given the opportunity to go to Hawai’i and attend a summer program at Kamehameha called Explorations Ho’omaka’ikai’. It was a one-week boarding program that provided foundational Hawaiian values and practices through hands-on activities like lei and ipu making, hula dancing, learning the Hawaiian language and songs, and visiting cultural sites like Iolani Palace. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, this was an experience that stuck with me forever. It was the first time in my life that I was surrounded by other kids and people who looked just like me. Being Hawaiian has always made me unique, but it took me a long time, even after my experience in Hawai’i, to understand that while Hawaii is a part of the United States, it has its own deep roots and culture that is not obvious to most and, unfortunately, fading.
This month and beyond, I encourage people to self-reflect and take a look at some of the enrichment they enjoy, like vacation destinations, activities, and food, and remember that these are important identifiers of Pacific Islander culture and heritage. Help us celebrate by being good stewards of our resources and history.
Our goal is to bring cultural awareness, education and community to DataRobot by celebrating our people’s cultures.
Alex Shoop is a Software Engineer II at DataRobot and a member of the MLDev team. He joined DataRobot right out of grad school, after finishing a BS in Actuarial Mathematics and Computer Science, an MS in Financial Mathematics, and an MS in Data Science. Shoop speaks Japanese and French fluently and has a passion for video production.
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