Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Members of the Booth community reflect on how their Asian American identities shaped them and why this month matters.
- By April 30, 2021
In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Booth students, alumni, and faculty are reflecting on their experiences growing up Asian American and what celebrating this month means to them. We’ll be sharing their reflections throughout the month of May. Check back weekly for new updates.
Eunice Lee, ’18
“This May we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month on the backdrop of a truly unprecedented and challenging time. But now more than ever, I am proud to be an Asian American and to celebrate this month as a community. It’s times like these that I rely on inspiration, and I am inspired to know that we celebrate AAPI today because of the powerful story and advocacy of one woman: Jeanie Jew, who turned a personal tragedy into a positive force and used her voice to change the way history is remembered to honor the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans.
“As a daughter of immigrants, I am also inspired by the courage and resilience of my parents, who immigrated to America from Korea. They endured countless hardships and sacrificed more than I can ever repay, so that their daughters could have opportunities to pursue their dreams and passions. I honor the voices and sacrifices of those who came before us and at the same time, I am committed to creating a better and more inclusive future as the next generation of Asian Americans.
“Let’s celebrate the beauty and strength of the full diversity of America together.”
Eunice Lee is an alumna of the Full-Time MBA Program. She currently works at Nike as strategy manager, Asia Pacific & Latin America.
“Growing up, I often felt that I had to choose between being either ‘Asian’ or ‘American,’ two seemingly mutually exclusive identities. It was as if the universe deemed that soup dumplings and apple pie could not be enjoyed on the same table or that there were only enough fireworks to go around for either the 4th of July or Chinese New Year. Well, too bad for the universe. I’m giving up neither soup dumplings nor apple pie.
“To me, being Asian American entails learning and embracing elements of both cultures. More importantly, it’s about synthesizing strands from each to create a unique identity that combines the best traditions, values, and ideals from both. No one should feel cornered and pressured to choose one vs. the other—AAPI month is a celebration of this freedom.”
John Meng is a current student in Booth’s Full-Time MBA Program. He serves as a co-chair of the Asian American Student Association.
Professor George Wu
“AAPI Month reminds me to celebrate parts of my upbringing that have shaped me. It has a different and additional meaning this year. With the large number of tragic Asian hate crimes, I hope that our community can celebrate their ethnicities, while others will reflect on how they can support the AAPI community. It is hard to grow up in a world in which your parents and the way that they raise you is so different from that of your classmates. But please trust me—there will be a time when you will celebrate your heritage and desperately want to understand China, Chinese people, and Chinese culture.
“I grew up in suburban Connecticut. We were the Chinese family. Actor Simu Liu, who I recently interviewed at a virtual event for Booth students, published a letter to his parents in Maclean’s. While my experience of intergenerational challenges between parents and children was different from his, much in his account resonated with me. My parents, like his, did everything they could to make my life better than their life. I strive to embrace that spirit, not just in raising my children but in thinking of others.”
George Wu, the John P. and Lillian A. Gould Professor of Behavioral Science, has been on the Booth faculty since 1997. He was recently honored as the 2020 recipient of the Chicago Urban League’s Humanitarian Award.