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Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Initiative

The AAPI Initiative is part of the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) efforts to address and assist in reversing the less than expected participation of AAPIs at DOC and better serve the nation's AAPI community.

The AAPI Initiative seeks to recruit talented candidates for employment with DOC; retain, promote, and develop current employees; and create a pipeline for addressing current and future workforce needs.

The AAPI Initiative is tied to our Equal Employment Opportunity policy. Through the AAPI Initiative, DOC is seeking to build relationships with AAPI communities and engage them in DOC’s mission of ensuring and enabling this Nation’s economic growth and development. The AAPI Initiative calls for strengthening departmental outreach activities in a comprehensive effort to promote partnership opportunities with the AAPI community in three critical areas: employment, education, and business opportunities.

All Federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce, must take a proactive stance in addressing AAPI underutilization in the Federal Government.

The Census Bureau reports that by the year 2050, or sooner, 33.4 million U.S. residents will identify themselves as Asian. They would comprise 8 percent of the total population by that year. This significant increase in the AAPI population has given rise to a large influx of AAPIs into America’s workforce. The DOC must be prepared to effectively manage the recruitment, selection, hiring, retention, and development of AAPIs in its workforce.

Program Manager: Cristina Bartolomei


2019 AAPI Heritage Month #ThisIsMyStory Event

AAPI May 21, 2019

Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative May 21, 2019

  • Good morning everyone and welcome to the Department of Commerce's Asian-American

    Pacific Islander Heritage Month observance thank you everyone for joining us we have

    plenty to cover in this event so I'm just gonna make my remarks a little bit brief my

    name is I always forget to say my name so I'm gonna say it my name is Cristina Bartolomei

    or Cristina Bartolome and I work for the Department of Commerce Office of Civil Rights and I'm

    really happy to emcee today and also to serve as a photographer and as the Deputy Undersecretary

    says other duties as assigned so I'll be running around throughout the event as many of you

    know and as you see over here the month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander

    Heritage Month and it is a time to honor to celebrate the Asian American and Pacific Islanders

    community in the United States and around the world and to celebrate the contributions

    to our economic academic cultural and social institutions so today's program #this is my

    story I decided to put a # because it always sounds so modern and great so and if you do

    use social media please use it to # this is my story maybe add the DOC right there at

    the end so it was coordinated to echo the spirit of this month and a few weeks ago a

    couple of commerce employees very dedicated commerce employees we got together and they

    met with the Office of Civil Rights and we brainstormed ideas of how we can make this

    event a little bit more inclusive because often when we do these events we think about

    the outside how do we bring the outside in, right? and this time we thought how do we

    bring the insiders the inside in in whatever and what about Commerce employees what about

    Commerce leadership? and so this event was born it is a storytelling showcase in which

    we will be giving Commerce employees and leaders a platform to share their stories and to connect

    with you and for you our audience as you can see here to learn to engage with one another

    and to grow as a person and as a professional so you're in for a treat I actually heard

    a couple of these presentations already and I was just stunned so no pressure guys they're

    right here in the front yeah you can tell which ones are going to be the presenters

    today because they're all looking at their papers and their presentations right now you're

    gonna kill it you're gonna be amazing so before we move on to our first presentation I want

    to acknowledge the Department of Commerce let me make sure that I say this right HQ

    AAPI ERG that stands for Asian-American no Headquarters Asian American and Pacific Islander

    employee resource group it is the first-ever AAPI ERG general AAPI ERG group at the Department

    of Commerce and think it was just officially announced yesterday so congrats to you I see

    Xiobing Feng in the back in the back she's the president so congrats to you and she has

    been a huge help for us and for this event and I also want to acknowledge Miss Erin Yun

    Liu she's in the back over there I see you she is the founder of the American Asian Pacific

    Culture Advancement Society her dedication to the Asian community and her efforts in

    ensuring that we have the wonderful tasting menu that we have in the back of this room

    and I also want to thank master cook chefs Andy Junqiao Li and Michael Chuanhui Chen

    I hope I'm pronouncing them right Chuanhui Chen for their efforts and making these delicious

    sample of imperial court desserts you can only find them here or in Beijing so make

    sure that you got grab a little bit of those desserts so and thank you to our volunteer

    presenters I am in awe of your stories and I can't wait for everybody else to hear them

    and with that said let us begin I am very very honored to introduce you to our first

    guest speaker I got a chance to sit one-on-one with her yesterday and it was a wonderful

    experience she is a Deputy Undersecretary for International Trade Sarah Kemp I called

    her Miss Kemp she's like just call me Sarah so Sarah she currently oversees the daily

    operations of the International Trade Administration I see a couple of ITA folks over here and

    yes ITA has an annual budget of 483 million dollars and probably more right now with approximately

    2,100 trade and investment professionals based on more than 100 US cities and 70 markets

    around the world she is a dedicated public servant with vast professional experience

    in working with Asian countries promoting US exports US trade promotion trade policy

    and more she has, and correct me if I'm wrong, I believe that she has lived in Hong Kong,

    Beijing, Vietnam, and other Asian cities across the world but I'll let her speak more about

    this herself so please give a warm welcome to the stage Deputy Undersecretary Sarah Kemp

    so first and foremost I want to thank each and every one of you for coming today it's

    an important event and I want to thank Cristina I want to thank our presenters I can't wait

    to hear your stories but I also want to thank each one of you when Xiobing approached me

    and said hey would you be willing to do this of course I said yes and then I went ohh what

    am I gonna talk About? and I want to thank Xiobing for being sort of this spark for this

    and and really encouraging me to come up and share my story I am humbled by the opportunity

    if you know me you know that I want this to be interactive so I hope you all have had

    your coffee or caffeine or whatever gets you jazzed in the morning uh and so as opposed

    to sitting here and telling you you know how did I come on this Asian tour of my career

    I thought I'd cut to the chase so click where's the clicker? okay so how did I end up on what

    I call my Asian Odyssey started with a junior year you can read through some of the highlights

    of what brought me to a 27-year career focused on Asia here at the Department of Commerce

    and I have been extraordinarily grateful for the opportunities that I have been able to

    pursue here at Commerce I started with a junior year in Hong Kong I worked in a Vietnamese

    refugee camp in Hong Kong I worked at the Center for Chinese Legal Studies at Columbia

    joined Commerce and then started with working on ASEAN policy for four years at headquarters

    before I went to Beijing and then did Beijing, Hong Kong, Beijing, Vietnam, Beijing but there's

    a whole other side of me than this professional I've done all these assignments overseas so

    what might not be obvious to you when you look at me is that when I go to school events

    I'm known as Mrs. Hong right I also overseas when I show up at events they would often

    say oh because I was in Asia what does your husband do? and I would say well he very nicely

    helps me take care of my kids Cause the assumption was the I was the stay at home ex-pat wife

    And finally my children don t necessarily look like me although I think they do and

    are often thought of as not mine I've had many people come up and say Oh whose children

    are these and I say they re mine I raised them they're often too Western for China and

    they've grown up in China until they came back three years ago to the States they d

    totally grown up in China and in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Asia and too Asian for US my son

    in his high school is known as the Asian kid which to me is like really? Cause I see you

    as so mixed but on that did you want to click so here's a video here in case you're curious

    and just a tip for all you who have teenagers you might appreciate this where's the audio?

    where's the audio Matt? we need your help seriously let's see it's on Matt we need your

    help let's see its connected there it is they re gonna kill me for this really I saw this

    already oh no its not gonna work oh no ok so I ll set the scene this is bowling at the

    White House how cool is that? they have a very funny way of trying to imitate me and

    make me feel just you know surprised but anyway I just put that up there as a way of trying

    to make it a little more personal so that's me and I really wanted this to be interactive

    so I'm happy to take questions I'm happy to take anything you want to throw at me in terms

    of professional personal questions that you might have but I thought I would put this

    sort of professional personal mix up there just to try to raise the questions and to

    get people to think that what you see is not always what is there and you know we are all

    onions with layers you peel back or they don't judge a book by its cover I have loved in

    my life that I have shown up and been not what was expected in many different ways I

    have embraced the Asian culture and feel privileged to be able to share in it with my husband

    and my family and I just again want to thank you all for showing up but any questions anyone

    okay don't be shy Yes how did your kids feel about moving from Asian culture to US culture?

    How did they assimilate? that's a great question so my kids are third country kids and my daughter

    when she went to choose colleges made it really easy anything in Manhattan seriously that

    was her entire college tour was Manhattan because she felt she wanted a cosmopolitan

    big city because she had only lived in big cities and she wanted to be able to blend

    my son came back for ninth grade right bring him back for high school and I have to say

    he's become very American very American in a way that I did not totally expect but he

    has really embraced sort of being a teenager and a high schooler all of it so very different

    approaches but they they interestingly enough so my daughter when she was born she was born

    in Thailand she until she was 11 thought she was Thai so when you said what are you she

    said oh I'm Thai oh you re actually American Passport you know they grow up when they were

    14 and 9 and they we came back for July 4th and they couldn't do the Pledge of Allegiance

    they didn't know the National Anthem I was like oh my god I gotta do something right

    so I of course as a good almost Asian mother as I'm sometimes sometimes they claim that

    I am put them in American history school right, I'm like oh my god you have got to learn something

    you're the kid of an American diplomat you don't know the Pledge of Allegiance so you

    know they went through every Wednesday from you know 4 to 6 they learned American history

    and the Pledge of Allegiance I'm happy to say but yes they've definitely been a third

    country kid other questions yes did you experience reverse culture shock? oh yeah yes so cars

    stop for you you know so I you know particularly coming back from I would say Vietnam more

    so then China was crossing the street it was like this Nirvana like well I put my toe up

    and the cars were stopping um I did that kind of jokingly and then my son actually picked

    it up I'm like no no you can't do that you have to actually really deliberately cross

    but but part of it was just sort of the traffic flow is one of the big things when we came

    back and I will say that I never never never never never never never take for granted what

    you have outside the fact that I can't see I can't taste I can't smell the air you know

    we used to joke in Beijing like if you can't see taste or smell and how do you know it's

    there you guys take a leap of faith every day because there's air out there and it's

    there and you're gonna be able to breathe right so that that was another thing in terms

    of coming back wow you guys so awesome do you know that yes How did you decide to get

    involved with Asian culture? sure haha I had this really intense discussion no what happened

    was it was really like a 30-second conversation with myself I in high school had the opportunity

    to go to France and Scotland on exchanges and I went something like this huh I want

    to get away from Hamilton which if anyone knows Hamilton College in upstate New York

    it's in the middle of nowhere and there's probably more cows than people so I thought

    huh I really want to get away I've been to Europe so that's kind of old school I need

    to do Asia that's kind of new school I think I think more people in Japan speak English

    than in China so I should learn Chinese that was the entire extent of my conversation right

    and then so Hamilton didn't have a Chinese language program so I listened to tapes anyone

    know what a tape is? They had to fly a professor from from Cornell in to test me at the end

    of the semester I just listen to tapes that s all I did and then I made the decision to

    go to China right all of you who are experts in Asia are gonna laugh at this so where did

    I go Hong Kong and I got off and went this isn't China and it wasn't but it was a really

    great experience and it kind of launched me on my path to really focus on Asia for a career

    What kind of foods do you cook at home? ha ok so my son loves Indian that's his favorite

    so I cook western my husband cooks better than I do everything but he does all the Asian

    cooking because I just I just didn't want that sort of stress of like yeah it's not

    like your mom I know but I do all the Western cooking except for the steaks and he does

    all the Asian cooking so that's how that breaks down again my son loves Indian which I can't

    cook so we order out one more question What is the reaction when your family travels?

    I haven't been to Disneyworld so we haven't I'll be very honest we've had

    a very I mean I haven't had an experience I will tell you the only experience that comes

    to mind was in ninty a long time ago when my husband and I were first in DC a very very

    very very long dinosaurs when dinosaurs ages as my son likes to remind me he and I you

    know on a Friday night would go to a bar or restaurant and I remember being at a bar once

    and the okay I looked very young so I'm gonna give it a the bartender said oh is this your

    exchange student and I was like kinda yeah that's the only thing that comes to mind great

    well with that I just want to say thank you to each and every

    one of you thank you for your contributions it's important and I appreciate what you do

    each and every day and I'm really looking forward to the stories of everyone else so

    thank you for participating thank you so much Sarah I got the money shot right now by the

    way I got a perfect picture of you I'm gonna send it to you it looks amazing thank you

    for your Q&A; your remarks I think it literally when we first spoke we talked about how diversity

    and inclusion is just so encompassing right and it's interesting that from an outsider

    they would look at you and you will seem a certain way and they wouldn't know the depth

    of your experience and your connection to a different culture that people wouldn't perceive

    right and you know that's that's what we like to do here at the Commerce Civil Rights office

    we'd like to defy expectations and upturn biases and you know make sure that folks are

    included so thank you so much for your remarks another round of applause please all right

    you guys ready fun part all right so now it's time to do introduce you to the other stars

    of today's event so these individuals will each join the stage and they will have about

    a five-minute presentation each a little bit of a TED talk like presentation it's not easy

    but these guys have managed to just do these brief presentations so if we time this right

    you will have a lot opportunity to ask them questions after everybody is done so let's

    start with Lisa Dr. Lisa Ng she is a mechanical engineer in the engineering laboratory at

    the National Institute of Standards and Technology NIST and has been there over eight years conducting

    on building related research including air flow and indoor air quality performance in

    buildings that's very impressive welcome Dr. Ng well good morning everybody thank you so

    much for being here Sarah thank you for giving your remarks Christina thank you for the introduction

    I really enjoyed the last bullet on your slide where you said your children weren't American

    enough for the US but not Chinese enough for the for China and I think my story kind of

    echoes that so my name is is now Lisa but that wasn't the name that I was given at home

    growing up my parents called me Xiao Hua which literally means little Chinese so at home

    it was Xiao Hua do your homework and at school it was Lisa where's your homework at home

    I ate rice at school I ate pizza at home I spoke Chinglish which is a mixture of Chinese

    and English and at school I spoke well actually I didn't speak very much so I was actually

    quite shy but I was living a double life and I didn't even know it but I was neither embarrassed

    by my Americaness in front of my Chinese family or ashamed of my Chineseness in front of my

    American friends I lived in two worlds and I slipped each into each and out of them seamlessly

    and growing up in Philadelphia made this very easy I always grew up in diverse communities

    and went to diverse schools so I had American friends I had Chinese friends we went to the

    mall and we went to dim sum and I never felt out of place as a child I didn't even feel

    out of place when I went to an engineering college and was the only female in an engineering

    classroom not even then so can you guess where it was that I finally felt out of place Washington

    DC Washington DC close it was actually in Taiwan where my mother was born and where

    I moved to after college to take a job after college and it was surprising because I look

    like people there I have black hair I have dark brown eyes I've olive skin and if I mumble

    enough my Mandarin can pass as a native for just a few seconds but I had never felt so

    out of place as I did there one time I walked into a clothing store just didn't say a word

    just doing my browsing business and the saleswoman said to me you're not from around here are

    you I mean what I did I have a sign on my back? I was wearing all clothes I had bought

    in Taiwan granted they were from the Gap but the styles are different and that's when I

    realized that my Americaness was showing through even if I looked like them even if I dressed

    like them so I began a very cliche post-college journey to find myself in Taiwan and I was

    there for two years and I learned a lot about myself I learned about what it was to be a

    professional in the working world I learned about myself personally and I learned a lot

    about what it really means to be an American but in Taiwan so three things I learned one

    I'm sarcastic and I never really realized that I was it's not like sarcasm runs deep

    in our culture or anything but it's a very American thing to be sarcastic and speaking

    to Taiwanese they didn't get my jokes so that was the first thing the second thing was I

    learned that I'm growing up in America I've learned to be very independent so when I first

    got to Taiwan everyone was very concerned about my well-being they wanted to make sure

    if I knew which bus to ride which bus stop to get on which bus stop to get off if I would

    eat dinner because you know my Mandarin was so awesome they were afraid I might starve

    and at first it was intrusive like why are you in my business but that's just how they

    are they're very caring they care about everyone even co-workers as family and the last thing

    I learned was that I'm proud to be an American and maybe it was the way I was carrying myself

    in that store that kind of set me apart and why am I proud to be American because we get

    to live in a melting pot we get to live in the land of opportunities and these are values

    that our country were built on and we still have a long way to go but I'm proud that a

    lot of us have the vision to get there so I guess I'm American all right mystery solved

    I got on a plane craving a cheeseburger the entire 14 hour flight and lo and behold it

    was not as easy as that I got off the airplane and suddenly I was self-conscious not just

    of my Taiwanese clothes but just how Chinese I looked compared to everyone else and I didn't

    know what to make of these feelings because I had grown up in the US for close to 20 years

    and I never felt out of place so why now why didn't I have these feelings earlier but maybe

    it was okay that I didn't have these feelings earlier so I went on round B of my journey

    of self-discovery and I learned that I don't have to pick my Americaness or my Asianess

    I can embrace both so what I embrace about my Americaness uh my Asianess is one that

    we care for one another even if we've just met and I don't have to be so standoffish

    as not all Americans are but we can be that way another thing I learned from my parents

    that I like to carry on is to respect my elders to put my family first and there's nothing

    wrong with that I remind my children every day to respect their elders me and I like

    my americaness - I think my sarcasm has increased since I returned from Taiwan and that's okay

    it binds us together and lastly I like being independent I like figuring things out on

    my own and that's okay too and I'm really proud to be part of this event today to get

    to hear the stories from all of our our colleagues at Commerce and that are freely able to do

    this in America and I'm proud of that so I've learned to live in both worlds actually I

    think I'm taking a little bit of this world and a little bit of that world and making

    the best of both worlds thank you fantastic thank you so much that was wonderful see guys

    I told you alright we'll go ahead now I'm gonna present Pauline Truong she's also from

    the National Institute of Standards and Technology she's a conference coordinator at the Office

    of Public Affairs welcome Pauline awesome I was waiting for Lisa's presentation for

    like the longest time so that was very very empowering Lisa thank you all right so my

    name is Pauline Truong and I'm a conference coordinator like Christina said and this is

    my story all right so when I was little I like tried so hard to fit in not with just

    my peers with my family but there were a lot of things that was expected of me and asked

    from me that I would do because I respect my elders but never understood it I couldn't

    relate to it my favorite story I still tell and I tell my grandmother this all the time

    it really it's it has to do with her and she denies it so I was like 9 or 10 and it's Sunday

    night it's family gathering everyone's at my grandma and grandpa's house I'm playing

    outside in the living room my grandma calls me in from the kitchen and she goes I go in

    and she goes Pauline it's time you learn to do the dishes your mom and your auntie they

    cook dinner for everyone like you got to do your part and I'm thinking okay cool so I'm

    doing it and I'm doing it as like a 9 or 10-year-old so you're hearing clank clunk like you know

    I'm not used to holding delicate porcelain bowls and from the side I hear my grandma

    and I still I could see her and she goes huuu how are you gonna feed your husband and take

    care of your family if you wash dishes like that and I'm thinking seriously this is what

    dictates my life how I wash dishes so growing up it was a bunch of those type of stories

    where I just kind of just was going with the flow and doing it horribly just trying to

    please my parents and my grandma and I kind of did this and felt kind of lost and lonely

    up until Mulan happened you guys have seen Mulan right? because my my examples are gonna

    be like spoilers okay so I watched Mulan when I was like probably 10 11 so I was like two

    three years after this movie came out and it was she changed my life she gave me meaning

    I could relate to someone I could do a thing where if I get stuck I would be like what

    would Mulan do um and I have have three pictures or in A jiffy that kind of worked my favorite

    scenes of of the movie so one of them was when she she's like crying and she's sad and

    she's sitting on the great stone dragon and she's thinking like man I really disappointed

    my family because she spoke up in front of the town people because her dad got called

    to go to the army to defeat the Huns and she's like no don't do it my dad my dad has served

    his time and she got shunned for it she got you know so she's sitting on the great stone

    dragon she's sad and you don't know if it's tears that she's crying over it's the rain

    and that's when she decides like you know what I'm gonna do this I'm gonna follow my

    heart I'm gonna do what's right so the scene of her cutting her hair with a sword like

    like a total rock star that's inspiring to me like it's it's awesome so I kind of followed

    this like what would Mulan do for like a long long time like 10 15 years okay you talk to

    my friends and stuff they like ya polly Mulan like it's crazy and I kept doing that until

    Ali Wong showed up okay do you guys know who Ali Wong is she is obnoxious and raw but authentic

    and real I stumbled on Ali Wong s her stand-up special on Netflix I'm just flipping through

    and I'm like what is this Asian girl with awesome glasses and you know what is she gonna

    do so I watched it and my mom came in halfway through and I'm like ah crap she's gonna say

    something and she did she's like she's foul I don't like her she's but she's my mom sat

    through the whole thing with me um you know so I'm like okay so I think you do like her

    I think you like how awesome and original she is so Ali Wong makes me feel human so

    last night I was doing like a dry run with my sister and we were talking about a Ali

    Wong we always talked about Ali Wong and she we got on a topic of bad a bad Asian and she's

    like you remember during that stand up when Ali Wong was going yeah her mom was discouraging

    her cuz I guess during her stand-up shows she'll show her panties or something and her

    like that's so bad of you you're a bad Asian she's like I'm the bad Asian like your other

    daughter's a lesbian so Ali Wong is great she like you know she makes me feel proud

    to be an Asian-American like you know there's more sides to us then you know what's stereotyped

    so shortly after Ali Wong I started noticing this snowball effect of Asian representation

    in the media you know I got the Marie Kondo life-changing magic the spark joy you know

    if it doesn't spark joy guys toss it out okay and then you know Miss Philippine crowned

    Miss Universe last year all these crazy things Fresh Off The Boat is a show and then the

    Crazy Rich Asian film phenomenon and book trilogies right like it's such a great it

    makes me feel proud over being represented more than just finding kung-fu or I don't

    know owning a laundry mat so my favorite my favorites but I guess my proudest moment of

    this like realizing like oh my god there's more Asians in the media and more stuff for

    us to you know go to was when I went to go see Crazy Rich Asians and I went with my friend

    and her son his name is Luka he's 13 and he goes we're getting popcorn he goes Miss Pauline

    and I'm so excited I think after watching this movie I'm gonna know you a bit more and

    I'm thinking it's just a movie like okay so I watched a movie and I kid you not throughout

    the whole movie I was taking notes like talk to Luka about this talk to Luka about that

    like I wanted him to know and I was happy that I can tell him and also he got to see

    it on the big screen of how I live and I was raised so I guess I wanted to do a talk because

    I feel so proud I think it's like such a great time to be an Asian-American right now you

    know like I mentioned Mulan and how she popped up like when I was 10 or 11 and then I had

    and I had her as my idol for like 15 years until Ali Wong came up we don't have to do

    that anymore we don't have to search or wait for the next big thing it's being brought

    us and not just to us but to our families and family and friends it's very enlightening

    so sorry I'm trying to go off of my notes so yes just I guess the gap we're bridging

    the gap of us and them and it's very very exciting and I'm so grateful to be part of

    it and see it like in the works so I'm gonna end this story my presentation with the story

    of the one person who never really gave up on me I was just just a pain in her butt like

    I just challenged everything she told me she wanted me to stay close after I graduated

    I went super far she told me she I asked she asked me when I was little what I wanted to

    do and I said I want to help people and that nearly gave her a heart attack because that

    was not comfortable enough as a job I work for the government mom so but my fondest memory

    of my mom is of her sweeping the house every morning at 7 o'clock like every morning was

    like it was like clockwork and she's not little stitious she's like superstitious so she starts

    from the back of the house and she sweeps with her feathery broom you guys know what

    I'm talking about and as she makes her way towards the front she wakes us up you know

    either for school or if it's Saturday we get to watch cartoons but um so she's waking us

    up and I remember thinking like why is she doing this is this is this expected of me

    because I don't want to do this so I was I always like question her like man like my

    mom this is a hard life I had I kind of don't want to do this not I'm not signed up for

    it and you know 20 plus years later I I have my own place and I'm cleaning and then I find

    myself doing exactly what my mother is doing sweet from the back of the house towards the

    front shooing you know like all the all the the trash is towards the front of the door

    and I'm shooing away the bad stuff and welcoming the good juju right so I'm doing that and

    I and it's funny I'm proud when I do it and why am I proud sweeping my house and I guess

    for once I I felt like really close to my mom and close to my culture and my family

    and being Asian and American at the same time so thank you for listening thank you Pauline

    that was fantastic yeah I Marie Kondo in my closet it's just a disaster right now I need

    to get rid of so many things oh right so next up we have Son Lam he's a management analyst

    at the Economic Development Agency welcome Son hey my name is Son people always ask me

    hey where are you from I'm always like I'm from New Jersey no where are you from Piscataway

    New Jersey no where you from what do you want my home address I once met someone we said

    their ancestors came from came to America on the Mayflower I was like wow we're the

    same your family came to America on a boat my family came to America on a boat your family

    ran away from oppression my family ran away from oppression but actually this is a picture

    of my my friend he got rescued out of South China Sea from the USS Ranger 138 lives were

    rescued unfortunately a hundred thirty-seven lives were survived I came to America on a

    747 on Pan Am probably most likely too that's because my mom worked for the CIA in Saigon

    so when I say I'm gonna tell my mom you better be scared so she was the OG tiger mom before

    there were OG Tiger moms I remember sitting in a parent-teacher conference and she would

    say if he's bad you hit him say what? if he's good you hit him what? that's uh that's a

    she grew up in a Catholic school so oh good morning sister Keith good morning yes

    so we came to America on 747 we arrived at Camp Pendleton it's a Marine Corps Base in

    Southern California and and they said hey who wants to go to New Jersey all the Vietnamese

    who are smart said oh no San Diego it's nice and warm we stay here but not my parents where's

    New Jersey it's over there okay yeah we go we go to New Jersey where it's nice and cold

    oh we love the four seasons while I'm shoveling 100 foot snow out of the driveway so we're

    ended up being the only Vietnamese family in Piscataway New Jersey then we discovered

    there was another Vietnamese family and then we were one of two Vietnamese families in

    Piscataway New Jersey it kind of weird because they had our family there's one boy and two

    girls and their family was one boy and two girls and there was a lot of other coincidence

    but that's another story and I remember friends during Thanksgiving would say oh we had turkey

    for Thanksgiving and it was awesome it was juicy we had a pumpkin pie and yams and all

    this stuff what did you have I actually had Pho but if I said that they d be like what

    the fuu.. is that? so I'm like yeah of course I had turkey it was awesome had turkey and

    yam and all that stuff too and then on Sunday they like oh because everybody's Italian in

    New Jersey on Sunday they had pasta from scratch my mom made pasta from scratch isn't that

    the best does your mom make pasta from scratch like pasta from scratch the heck is that still

    had Pho on Sunday now I grew up you know they have food channel and you can see what pasta

    from scratch truly was and how hard it is I'm like your mom didn't make pasta from scratch

    not after making turkey on Thursday and making pasta on Sunday no way you didn t make no

    pasta from scratch this is what your pasta from scratch was (jar pops open sound) hear

    that jar that lid opening from that jar of Ragu that means it's from scratch but in New

    Jersey there's only one Asian grocery store where I grew up it was an hour away so if

    you wanted something making Pho actually we it was really from scratch because even go

    to the A&P; that's grocery store where I grew up they didn't have things like bone beef

    or oxtail you go there okay where's the bone where's the oxtail oxtail get out of here

    there's no oxtail you didn't have sriracha sauce you're gonna get all that stuff at Harris

    Teeter now but back then there was no H Mart or Super Mercado on every corner so I remember

    growing up it they would make Pho it would take days and you could smell it and you'd

    be hungry all the time but it was good eating because after it was done it was like you

    eat PHO for a whole week cause they made a big bowl so that's my short presentation thank

    you oh if my friends can make pasta from opening a can of Ragu I can make Pho from scratch

    as well Thank You Son so much all right I'm sorry

    okay next up we have Jawad Syedaim he works for the Office of Civil Rights he is a senior

    data analyst he has over 14 years of service in the US federal government he's also a veteran

    of the US Navy where he served for 6 years I could read more but I'm gonna let you tell

    your story welcome Jawad Good afternoon everyone my name is Jawad Syedain and at one point

    I was a high school dropout what I was born and raised in Karachi Pakistan Karachi is

    one of the largest cities in the world with the estimated population of 17 million people

    I grew up in one of the most violent areas of Karachi called Golimar and if I tell you

    the meaning of Golimar are you like well that's ironic because Golimar literally means Goli

    is bullet and Mar means fire so figure we also used to have like power outages pretty

    much every day in summer time for water we used to had like a water tanker and a tube

    well because we didn't get the you know the the fresh water clean water you get here also

    like we would have shortage of food supplies and gasoline so this is what I'm trying to

    say is I grew up in a hard place growing up like many of the Pakistanis I wanted to be

    a medical doctor like most of my cousin's are in the mid 90s my father lost his job

    in the in Karachi so he decided to move back to the US he came to US in the 1970s he got

    his master's in pharmacy got married had my older brother and sisters born here and then

    he decided to move back to Pakistan to take care of his older parents and it's very common

    in Asian culture for children to take care of their older parents and that's one of the

    values I admire in Pakistani culture that the joint family system and I also want to

    take care of my parents when my father retires I mean why not we'll have a reliable trustworthy

    babysitter I can enjoy my mom's cooking and also I can claim my parents on as dependent

    on my taxes other cultural values and qualities instilled

    in me are stereotypical Asian hard work we all heard about nine nine six work policy

    in China work from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. six days a week that similar thing in Pakistan

    my dad used to come home like around right before dinner he would eat dinner go to sleep

    yes pretty much every day also staying humble and not complaining and these are the part

    of immigrant mentality you know which which I attribute my success to saying yes to opportunities

    and you know success will come I feel very lucky to be in the United States because here

    hard work pays off with great determination consistency towards a particular goal you'll

    attain success so if you are wondering how how did I high school dropout has currently

    has two masters degrees currently enrolled in a doctorate program has six professional

    certificates well I came to US when I was 13 and I struggled with with in school because

    of language barrier changing culture and a different educational system after I dropped

    out of high school I joined the US Navy after completing my initial training I start attending

    college classes after after work and eventually I accumulated enough semester hours to get

    enrolled into the undergraduate program they didn't check my high school diploma so during

    the military I had to put my education on hold in 2005 I deployed to Iraq but even there

    I continued with my studies I studied for my advancement got promotion promoted to NCO

    and also I studied for the warfare specialist devices this medal you wear but after I came

    back I enrolled back into college classes I I was working from 7:00 to 4:30 I'll get

    off work eat dinner and then go to school attend classes from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. every

    day so that was my life on weekdays and on weekends I would take classes from 8:30 to

    4 o'clock and because of that hard work working full-time attending classes I was able to

    attain my bachelor's degree in with honors in two and a half years after after I separated

    from the military I used my GI Bill got into MBA program once I finished that and then

    I pursued my second master's in information technology because I'm you know my Asian I

    have to get into IT what I wanted to basically mention here was when you say yes to opportunities

    it opens door for other opportunities and brings a success but year and a half ago our

    office formulated SEPM special emphasis program committee and that's where I met Xiobing and

    with Xiobing and Laura we started the AAPI group and last year we organized a very successful

    event had the similar attendance and this year we you know the attendence see here but

    with that with saying yes to that group I learned about ARGEN program I didn't know

    about ARGEN before and recently long story short I got accepted into ARGEN SES CDP program

    and again it's because I'm say yes to that opportunity met some people who introduced

    me to ARGEN I applied and got accepted so that's my story thank you very much thank

    you so much know we've heard about representation matters they saying yes to opportunities and

    even being given opportunities matters so I ll sum this up when we're done but I'm just

    so in awe of all of you presenters already and now last but certainly not least our last

    presenter of the day her name is Suchira Pande she's a PhD she works as a patent business

    analyst of the office of patent information at USPTO and just FYI she told me to say that

    she aspires to be a senior executive service member so just FYI namaste welcome to all

    of you welcome to all of you my name is Suchira it's a name that was coined by my father it's

    composed of two words Suchi and Rah Suchi is a Sanskrit word which means purity Rah

    means to bring so my name is one who brings purity I was born in Mathura some of you may

    know it's the same town where five thousand years ago Krishna was born we share some similarities

    in our life paths both of us were born in Mathura Krishna grew up in Gokul another town

    on banks of river Yamuna went to the western part of the country and formed a new city

    Bakara and settled there well I was born in Mathura and then I grew up in New Delhi another

    city on the banks of river Yamuna and then I traveled all the way west and here I am

    in east coast of United States so how did I get here from New Delhi it all started with

    a life-changing moment I was a teenager hot summer months we are in the terrace of our

    prefabricated apartment building and my father asked me Suchira what are you doing to prepare

    for your upcoming exam pitagee that's the word we used in Hindi for your father I asked

    my mother for six rupees I wanted to buy a manual which I could use to practice for this

    upcoming exam she didn't have six rupees to spare for a manual which would be used just

    for one month and I understand you really want to study and prepare for that exam yes

    Father I do alright then here take six rupees go get yourself the manual and prepare to

    put it in perspective that six rupees at that time was a whole lot of money for our family

    in terms of the equivalent it was fifteen cents but for a family where my father was

    the only breadwinner he worked he was also a civil servant worked for Information and

    Broadcasting ministry in New Delhi we had eight members of family in our home four children

    two parents my paternal grandmother and her older sister who was a child widow and we

    did not have money to spend on luxuries such as books which were going to be used only

    for one month means we always got our regular textbooks we never bought them from the people

    who were in the senior class you already talked to them when the school year is done can I

    have your books and the value of that six rupees fifteen cents is that we had a school

    trip to go and see Taj Mahal in Agra one of the eight wonders of the world the cost was

    two rupees five cents and I was told we don't have two rupees to spend on just going and

    seeing a tomb of a dead Queen so I was really touched that I was given this opportunity

    I practiced believe me I practiced that is the workbook from front to back many times

    over aced the written exam aced the interview and got National Science Talent scholarship

    this single event that happened opened the door into the world of science for me not

    only did I complete my bachelors in botany honors went on to do a masters in cytogenetics

    but more importantly it allowed me the freedom and the power to travel as a single teenage

    girl within the country because NCERT was supporting the summer school where I could

    go stay for one month in the University hostel work with the graduate students on a research

    project while I was still an undergraduate and not only that I got an opportunity to

    then write up a paper present my own findings in actually a scientific Congress in Indian

    Institute of Technology and this was like wow I could see I would not have been allowed

    to go as a single young female to any of these places if it were not for this opportunity

    which obviously everybody in the family recognized was something really great so science has

    been my ticket and passport for travel in the country and then I aspired to do PhD in

    molecular genetics a discipline that was not available in India at that time I wanted to

    do that so I applied to three continents now this is where you know you never know because

    I can only do my part but rest what the universe is going to do so I don't want to waste time

    applied to three continents get accepted and then decide the school that's giving you money

    from day one because I had learned I was not going to be putting any more burden on anybody

    if I had any say in the matter come to University of Alberta in Canada do a PhD I came to US

    as a postdoc in Yale University and I realize the opportunities in terms of research R

    that is there in this country is amazing and to top it all my professors from the master's

    program when I was looking for jobs as a postdoc they told me look we've trained you now go

    use that training and I said but I'm looking for jobs here they said right now we don't

    want you to come back to India I said why so is it because right now you will come back

    and either you'll be constantly fighting with your supervisors or you'll say well I don't

    get full credit so I'm not going to do any work we've trained you well you have the potential

    go use it go wherever in the world and get a job but you're not getting you're not coming

    back here not that we don't have the jobs for you but we want you to build on what we've

    given you and that was the journey that took me to work in a biotech company in France

    and then as a visiting professor I came to NIH and that's when I decided okay I want

    to stay here because I had experience being that interesting foreigner in France it's

    like no I cannot see myself staying here for the rest of my life having done everything

    on my own this was not something unusual I decided to apply for my own green card as

    an exceptional scientist and then once I got naturalized coming from a family of public

    servants I wanted to come back and work for the federal government started as a contractor

    in NOAA then got the opportunity to work at USPTO which is where I'm still there so if

    it was not for that investment and it's not just the money investment the opportunity

    the belief and the trust that was given to me as a teenage girl by my father I would

    not be standing before you today I see there is a big push right now for encouraging girls

    to go into the field of science and I stand here before you to this Commerce community

    I would like to be the ambassador for our department to give aspirations hopes and direction

    to these young women to believe in themselves and to know that here if they believe in themselves

    and in the and they truly believe in the motto of the country In God We Trust they can achieve

    whatever they want and carve out a destiny for themselves that will be their unique trail

    thank you Wow stay here thank you so much I know we are out of time and please stay

    on the stage - Suchira stay on the stage I'm gonna ask the rest of the presenters to please

    come on stage as well we really want to thank you for the time and effort that you spent

    on these presentations and I've heard a lot you know you you finish your presentations

    to share with opportunity belief trust support so many key words right and thank you everyone

    for your presentations unfortunately we don't have time for Q&A; but we will be mingling

    please if you guys want to ask them any questions and in the back I really want to make sure

    that everybody knows that the American Asian Pacific Advancement Society has Imperial Chinese

    desserts and you won't will not be able to find them anywhere in the world well anywhere

    in the United States but here and in Beijing these are they come from the Ching dynasty

    in China and they are favorites of the Emperor and Empress of China please go in the back

    talk to Erin and talk to Michael talk to Andy the chefs and please grab a couple of those

    so thank you so much please give them a round of applause we have a couple of all right

    and because I'm the photographer I'm going to step down now and take pictures Deputy

    Undersecretary Sarah please you can join us and enjoy the desserts in the back everybody

    take pictures with them as well thank you everyone you have surveys please fill them

On Tuesday, May 21, 2019 the DOC's Office of Civil Rights hosted a storytelling showcase, #ThisIsMyStory, at the Commerce Research Library in honor of the 2019 Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Moderated by Senior Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Specialist, Cristina Bartolomei, the TED-talk-like event provided a forum for AAPI individuals and AAPI advocates to speak about their experiences with the community. The Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade, Sarah E. Kemp, opened the event by speaking about her professional and personal experience with the Asian community, having lived in several Asian countries throughout her lifetime.

Five DOC employees from various bureaus were also given the opportunity to share stories on identity, inclusion, culture, and more. The employees were Dr. Lisa Ng, Mechanical Engineer, Engineering Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Pauline Truong, Conference Coordinator, Public Affairs Office, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Son Lam, Management Analyst, Economic Development Agency, Jawad Syedain, Senior Data Analyst, Office of Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary; and Dr. Suchira Pande, Patent Business Analyst, Office of Patent Information Management, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Please enjoy the recording above and explore images from the event by accessing this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/171603259@N03/40944357403/in/album-72157708725788774/