Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month
“Acknowledging differences between cultures and celebrating them is extremely important. One way that we can truly show love to another person is genuinely trying to learn and understand them. Something we do to celebrate graduation and major life events is giving leis. Leis are made of flowers strung together or leaves that are woven. Leis are typically vibrant in color, extremely beautiful and they smell great as well.” -Kolby Matsushima, MBU alumni
Q: What is one thing you wish people knew about you?
A: “Perhaps the most common question I get asked when people hear I’m from Hawai`i is why did I ever leave? I wish people knew that Hawai`i is more than the vacation spot for tourists, that most locals there just get by. Families work extremely hard to go week to week. It is very beautiful in Hawai`i, the culture is very rich and different, the mountains and oceans are breath-taking, but it is also extremely expensive.”
“I am first and foremost a Christian and that is my main identity. I am Chinese and I’m proud, but for basically all of my life I grew up in America, so I am also an American. Learning and respecting culture helps unite people together with differences. That is what we are called to do as Christians. Philippians 2:2 says “to be united in spirit, intent on one purpose” and we cannot do that if we are divided by our differences.” -Libby Scanio, MBU senior
When a community embraces diversity, I believe that it becomes much stronger — and more reflecting of the image of God. He is certainly multi-faceted and beautiful. -Kim Cochran
“To be honest, I feel very “behind” on learning about my Korean heritage and culture. I was adopted from Korea in the late 1960’s into a white family from a very small community that was (and still is for the most part) all white as well. For this reason, I was not connected to my heritage. I don’t blame my parents for this — it just wasn’t a thing that was done at that time or in that place. Additionally, I did not celebrate my heritage because it was so different from everyone around me. And, as most kids, I desperately wanted to “fit in.”
Now, as an adult living in a more diverse community, I am (still) learning to embrace these differences. I believe that it’s important for us to recognize that God created us all to be uniquely in His own image, and that uniqueness brings beauty, vibrancy, compassion, knowledge, and wisdom to humanity. Unfortunately, because these differences can also cause people who are in a minority group to endure pain based purely on their appearance, we have not always done a good job of celebrating those differences. Instead, we’ve often treated “different” as “less than” — perhaps because we see it as a threat to our “way of life.”
As we are becoming a more global society, I’ve found information on Korea to be more accessible and more “acceptable” and I am no longer embarrassed to be an Asian American. I’m thankful that my children have been raised in a community and at a time when diversity is more valued. When a community embraces diversity, I believe that it becomes much stronger — and more reflecting of the image of God. He is certainly multi-faceted and beautiful.” -Kim Cochran, Director of Early College Partnerships
“Differences can bring people together. Acknowledging the differences in people brings respect, understanding and compassion. Something unique that my family and I do is talk in pidgin. Pidgin is a local slang native to people of Hawaii. We use it throughout our regular everyday conversations.” -Kaitlyn Matsushima, MBU senior
Q: What significance is there in learning and respecting culture?
A: Throughout my college years, I have met many people who genuinely seem interested in getting to know me and my culture. My culture is a big part of who I am so it was nice knowing that there were people out there who wanted to learn about my culture and at the same time had respect for it. It means the world knowing that people care enough to take the time to learn about a huge part of what makes you, you. Respecting culture also opens up a new lane for respecting diversity and ultimately a step towards helping the racial divide that the world is currently facing.
“Recognizing differences is one of the best ways to broaden one’s intellectual and cultural horizons. As a first-generation immigrant to the United States, I have worked hard to reach this point in my life. Also, I have done my best to instill in my children the Asian virtues of hard work, continuous learning, accountability, responsibility, and harmony.” -Dr. John Han
Q: In what ways do you celebrate your heritage?
A: I don’t do anything to “celebrate” my heritage. I am (and I know) who I am, which is sufficient for me. As a first-generation immigrant to the United States, I have worked hard to reach this point in my life. Also, I have done my best to instill in my children the Asian virtues of hard work, continuous learning, accountability, responsibility, and harmony. Thankfully, they are now professionals who work as successful, productive members of society.
Q: What is something that motivates you to work hard?
A: The fact that I have no relative to depend on in the New World has served as enormous pressure to work hard. I have also wanted to be a father my children can be proud of.