May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the U.S.
This month recognizes the 24 million Asian and 1.6 million Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander individuals in the United States.
Join us in celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and hear from Enterprise employees about what their AAPI heritage means to them.
Jason O. is a Commute Branch Manager in Hawaii. He shared the importance of his heritage and his experience growing up in Hawaii.
What do you think about when reflecting your AAPI heritage?
When I think about my AAPI heritage, I think of my relatives who came to Hawaii before me. Being a 4th generation Japanese male growing up in Hawaii, I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place.
I think about the sacrifices made by my parents and grandparents to give me a great life. Moving away from their home country was hard for my great-grandparents, but they focused on the future. Like Jack Taylor, one of my grandfathers served in the Army during World War II and my other grandfather spent time in an internment camp. Their generation is said to be the greatest generation, and I’m proud of the sacrifices they made for my family and our country.
Why is your AAPI heritage important to you?
My AAPI Heritage defines who I am. I take pride in how my heritage shaped my upbringing. Japanese culture is very disciplined and reinforces respect for elders and each other. I apply this to my life every day. I have taken what I have learned and applied it to my everyday life. I still want to learn more about my heritage and where my family came from. I have been to Japan twice and plan to go back in the future.
What was it like growing up in Hawaii?
Growing up in Hawaii, one of the most diverse places, I did not face much adversity due to my Japanese heritage, and I learned an appreciation for ethnicities and respect for individual identities. The friends I grew up with were very diverse. Even though we are from different ethnicities we had a lot in common, and I learned so much about other traditions and foods.
I loved that the diverse culture here considers everyone Ohana, or family. We’re all human and should be treated as such—as Ohana.”
How does your manager or team encourage you to bring your whole self to work?
Our team encourages individuality, embracing and highlighting the many different ethnicities that are a part of our region. For example, I love that we are allowed to wear Aloha Shirts to work.
What do you think people can do this AAPI Heritage Month to raise awareness and learn about important issues that impact the AAPI community?
If you work with someone who is a member of the AAPI community, get to know them. You may learn about a new tradition or get to try some of the great food that come from the AAPI community.