May 19, 2023Blog

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islanders Month

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May is Asian American and Pacific Islanders Month, but at Woven by Toyota we celebrate cultural diversity every day. We believe that engaging with people from different backgrounds truly opens our mind, and with employees hailing from various countries all over the world, we have endless opportunities to expand our understanding of different cultures.

In the spirit of celebrating the things that make us unique, we asked some of our AAPI colleagues to share a favorite tradition from their heritage.

Varsha Parthasarathy

Senior Software Engineer

I am of Indian origin, hailing from the Southern part of India, and I speak Tamil (native language), one of the oldest languages of our civilization.Be it waking up in the wee hours of the morning to celebrate Diwali, or staying up late every night to ward off evil thoughts during Navratri, cultural traditions always hold a special place for me. Being an Indian in America, one of the occasions that I never fail to enjoy is celebrating Janmashtami and food is an integral part of it. We make varieties of sweets made from milk, ghee & almonds, and crisps made from rice flour and chickpea flour. I look forward to this years’ celebration, which usually falls around the month of August.

Kimlyn Huynh

Technical Operations Manager

I am Vietnamese American, and during Lunar New Year, my family has a rice cake, or as we call it “banh tet”-making production. Very similar to Latino households with Tamales around Christmas, we have an assembly of family members rolling, tying and steaming the rice cakes that will later be shared, or gifted.

Vince Pascual

Senior Industrial and Interaction Designer

I’m Filipino, born and raised in California, and my parents always did their best to ensure we enjoyed Pancit on every birthday. It was introduced to the Philippines by the Chinese and is meant to symbolize long life and good health. I’m now looking forward to continuing the tradition with my kids, I just need to improve my Filipino cooking skills :)

Sharin Shin

Senior Safety and Policy Manager, AV Safety

I am Korean-American and grew up going to South Korea every summer during my elementary school years. My parents felt it critical for me to know my culture, but it was also an amazing way to learn the language. I went to school there, took piano and art classes and hung out with my extended family. I complained a lot because I felt like I never got a true summer break of “doing nothing”, but looking back I’m so thankful for the experience. Because of those years, I can binge K-dramas without subtitles, cook Korean food and listen to BlackPink without translation. But most importantly, I have memories from my mother land with my family that will be passed down to my own kids. I can’t wait to start taking them to South Korea to start a new generation of memories!

Em Pandez

Security Officer

What I love most about the Filipino culture is the strong sense of family ties and the virtue of helping one another. My parents taught me to place importance on our family before anything else. They work all day and do all they can to feed and provide for the needs of our family. This culture had shaped my values, my personality, my character, my goals, and who I am today.

Yiting Liu

Senior Manager, Vehicle Software Platform

I was born and raised in China, and one cultural tradition that I hold dear to my heart is the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival. This is one of the most important festivals in China, symbolizing the reunion of families and the importance of maintaining strong connections with our loved ones. It is celebrated during the full moon on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, and it marks the time when the moon is at its fullest and brightest.What I love most about the Mid-Autumn Festival is the sense of togetherness it fosters among family and friends. During the festival, we share and enjoy mooncakes, which are sweet desserts that come in various flavors and styles depending on the region of China. Mooncakes are round in shape, symbolizing the full moon and representing the unity and perfection of families.For me, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a beautiful representation of Chinese culture and values, emphasizing the importance of family bonds, friendships, and our connection to nature. It is a time for reflection, gratitude, and togetherness that I cherish and eagerly anticipate each year.

Janina Sommer

Corporate Counsel, US and UK

Food is an important tradition for most if not all cultures, and is definitely something I hold dear when it comes to my culture! My family is from the Philippines (my parents immigrated here in the 80s; I’m second-generation Filipino-American). Living in the US, food has been an important way to stay connected with the Philippines, as it brings a sense of comfort and home.Perhaps more importantly, it allows us to both connect with other Filipinos and introduce/welcome non-Filipino family and friends to our culture.Learning to cook Filipino food is one way to help me feel connected to my family, especially the older generations. It also is a fascinating peek into Filipino history when you see other different cultural influences incorporated in the recipes.A big thank you to all those who shared their stories, and to all members of the AAPI community for their invaluable contributions both today and throughout history.

A big thank you to all those who shared their stories, and to all members of the AAPI community for their invaluable contributions both today and throughout history.