East Meets Sweets: Celebrating a Diverse Team During AANHPI Heritage Month

AANHPI Desserts TableIn May, the United States recognizes Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, honoring the significant contributions this community has made in America. One of the ways the Department of Aviation celebrates AANHPI Heritage Month and its diverse workforce is with the annual “East Meets Sweets” event. 

East Meets Sweets attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander desserts to share with co-workers. The event aims to foster an atmosphere of culinary exchange and cultural exploration. For those seeking inspiration, organizers suggested tapping neighbors, friends, or colleagues, thereby igniting new conversations and expanding community connections. 

“I am proud to represent and celebrate AANHPI culture. This event has provided moments for connection, support and growth while satisfying our sweet tooth,” said Chief Development Officer Api Appulingam, who began the annual celebration in 2022.

Beyond indulging in delectable treats, participants were invited to share a little about their own ancestry, whether rooted in Asian, Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander descent or not. Among the AANHPI attendees, were several airport team members who were of Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Iranian, Malaysian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, and Taiwanese descent.

Senior GIS Analyst Ta-Jou “Adrian” Jen values AANHPI Heritage Month “to have more opportunities to know other cultures.” 

"It signifies a recognition and celebration of my heritage, fostering a sense of belonging and pride in my cultural identity as a Taiwanese.”

A diverse team brings together people with different backgrounds and experiences – this is valuable for any workplace because it provides a greater range of perspectives and problem-solving skills.

The significance of May as AANHPI Heritage Month is deeply rooted in history, commemorating pivotal moments such as the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. in May 1843 and the monumental contribution of Chinese immigrants to the construction of the first transcontinental railroad in America, spanning from May 1843 to May 1869. 


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Christine Ottow
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Heather Redfern
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