Memorial offers a taste of Asia to honor AAPI Heritage Month

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Memorial Hospital at Gulfport held a celebration of those cultures with a tastes of AAPI cuisine, speakers from some of the cultures from the AAPI and informational booths from community partners.

“We wanted to give our employees a taste of Asia, so Asian American Pacific Islander month encompasses many, many countries so we wanted to include some that were very, very close to the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said LeAnna Saucier, diversity, equity and inclusion committee at Memorial.

Congress chose the first 10 days of May to commemorate the history and contributions of Asian American communities in the U.S. back in 1977.

The observance then became the entire month, which is when the first Japanese immigrants came to the U.S. in 1843.

“Bringing people together — even if it’s our co-workers that work next to us — giving a little more understanding to each other about what it’s like, what their background is and also keeping the traditions alive that those people have and celebrating them and giving understanding to other people,” Saucier said.

Speakers from different AAPI cultures spoke about their experiences growing up in the U.S. Radiology specialist Dr. Leena Pande grew up along the Coast and said she always felt welcomed.

“My culture was something that was appreciated and my friends always wanted to know more about it,” Pande said. “And now being on the other side of it as a parent and having my kids grow up exposed to both cultures, I just see more of the same.”

Pande says the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is more than a celebration. It’s also a way to inspire youth.

“Representation absolutely matters,” she said. “It goes such a long way when kids look up and see somebody who looks like them doing what they want to do.”

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