Southwest Airlines is a proud sponsor of WTS (Women's Transportation Seminar) International. Kyla D’Sa shares her story about attending the Transportation YOU DC Summit and how it inspired her to achieve her career dreams. Although the WTS Transportation YOU DC Summit only lasted five busy days in June, the memories and connections will last a lifetime. Each day presented a unique opportunity to explore the evolving field of transportation. The Summit, a program of WTS Foundation, opened my mind to the variety of careers associated with transportation. One of my most valuable takeaways was just how complex and diverse the transportation field and community is. Every speaker inspired me to think about the world through a slightly different lens. Having the ability to view the world with a more open mind has allowed me to think of more creative solutions to some transportation challenges, such as varied trip chains, and understand how the transportation system must work for every citizen, including those with disabilities.
On the first day I listened to women speak about their specialty mode or role within the Department of Transportation, their journey to get there, and advice they had for young women like me. There were a few common themes among the advice that the speakers offered: ‘put yourself out there,’ ‘take healthy risks,’ and ‘be passionate about learning.’ Throughout the next few days, these themes were echoed by other women in at Amtrak, Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, and the National Transportation Safety Board.
While sitting at the beautiful Washington, D.C., monuments the second night of the summit, I realized there are millions of people walking and biking around me, driving on the roads next to me, taking the subway underneath me and flying over me. Relative to all of the motion and people, I felt still and small, though, I quickly noted that I am one woman with great aspirations. I realized that I was not alone and had the support of my family and friends, the amazing women who played a role in the Summit, community members, WTS Foundation, and the companies that support it, such as Southwest Airlines, without whom I could not have participated. With all of this support, I feel more empowered than ever—a feeling that continues to affect me as I work to confidently pursue my passion to work with, and for, a safe and efficient community and transportation system for all of its citizens.
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Seven years ago, I wrote a blog that touched on the last event I attended before becoming a mother. Even though I felt as big as a house, I was determined not to miss listening to former Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. (When you meet the two-time Cabinet Secretary, Congressman, and former San Jose Mayor, he will graciously insist you call him “Norm.”)
I was proud that Southwest had sponsored the 25 th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the legislation that officially apologized for forcibly relocating and interning 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans during World War II. As a resident of San Jose’s Japantown, the same neighborhood from which Norm and his family were hauled away in 1942, it was important for me to hear first-hand accounts of many neighbors and to better understand a very dark and tragic part of American history.
Listening to Norm recount his personal experiences solidified why I deeply admire this humble American hero. From overcoming internment at Heart Mountain, WY as a child; to sponsoring and cosponsoring 479 bills that passed into law in his 21 years as a member of Congress; to safekeeping our country’s transportation system during 9/11; to other unparalleled achievements, Norm has broken glass ceilings for the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. He epitomizes what it means to forgive and rise above, to lead with integrity, and to always serve the greater good.
In my role as a Community Affairs & Grassroots Regional Leader, I’ve had the honor to work with dedicated AAPI organizations and leaders throughout the country. Over the years, I’ve learned that many of those organizations and their programs, even Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, were founded by Norm.
One such organization is the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), which helps build the political pipeline for AAPI leaders and is dedicated to promoting AAPI participation in all levels of the political process.
At a recent APAICS reception in Washington, D.C., Southwest Airlines Diversity & Inclusion Senior Manager Liji Thomas and I had the pleasure of sitting next to Norm. I could have listened all night to his many stories about our Company’s Co-founder Herb Kelleher!
He and Herb have been friends since they worked closely on the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. I’d love to be a fly on the wall listening to two great storytellers reminisce about the good ol’ days. The grandpa of 10 affectionately shared a “sweet” story of the time Herb visited him at Walter Reed Hospital and brought a big Snoopy jar filled with jelly beans. My heart smiled.
I left that evening thinking about these two extraordinary icons who not only had a hand in changing the course of aviation history but have positively impacted lives worldwide for more than 40 years, and will for generations to come. I just celebrated my 20 th anniversary with Southwest, and I ponder as I write this blog: How did a Vietnam refugee come to fulfill her American dream to work for the best airline and to know and learn from true Legends and Leaders?
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The following is a guest blog from Joy Yo
Thanks to Southwest Airlines, the Official Airline of the 2015 Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) Higher Education Summit, 20 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Scholars from across the country were able to participate in the Summit in Washington, D.C. on June 23, 2015. For many, it was the first time that they took a plane ride, visited the nation’s capital and mingled with nation’s top community and corporate leaders.
The sixth annual APIASF Higher Education Summit convened around the theme, “Ensuring AAPI Student Success: Prospering in America’s Future Workforce.” Leaders from all sectors – nonprofit, policy, corporate, higher education, and community – discussed the important role that institutions play in developing AAPI students into graduates who are poised to prosper in today’s economy.
However, the critical component of the Summit is that it gives student a seat a table and allows them to participate in the national education dialogue. Throughout the event, Scholars played an active role in shaping recommendations and developing action plans to help further AAPI student success.
Additionally, for the first time, the APIASF Higher Education Summit incorporated various new platforms to amplify impact and bring the conversation online. As a result, the critical conversations expanded to thousands more:
For the first time, APIASF launched a microsite dedicated to the 2015 APIASF Higher Education Summit – allowing for ease to get all event information and updates – to more than 1,100 unique users.
For the first time, the 2015 APIASF Higher Education Summit was live streamed on the event’s microsite to broaden the reach of the conversation and allow online audience to tune in and engage – reaching 530 unique viewers throughout the day.
The #APIASFSummit conversation was extremely lively and engaging – reaching over 1 million impressions online.
“As the nation's fastest growing community, it is critical for us to provide opportunities to inspire and empower our next generation of leaders," said APIASF President & Executive Director Neil Horikoshi. "Thanks to Southwest Airlines, we were able to provide these students with the tools needed to become change agents in their local communities and help them become positive role models for other students looking to make a difference."
To learn more about APIASF and the Higher Education Summit, visit http://summit.apiasf.org.
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Hi Dr. Chang~
I'm honored to speak to your students each year; they inspire me as well! Thank you for all that you do to make a positive difference in their lives. Please give my best to the alumni, and I look forward to visiting with the new class this summer! Kim
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A few years ago, our beloved Brian Lusk wrote a very special blog, A Tale of Redemption, that my family will always treasure. He posted his moving thoughts about my life’s story and what the Vietnam War meant to him.
Not long after his post, during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, our Company posted the NBC Bay Area affiliate’s story about my quest to find an American man named Jim Smith, who had helped me, my brother, and three teenaged cousins escape Vietnam in April 1975. Throughout May of 2010, I received countless messages from Employees who shared their LUV, personal stories, and hopes that I might, one day, find my American Hero.
With Jim Smith in the U.S. a few years after I left Vietnam
Well, after 18 years, I finally found Mr. Smith! It has taken me a while to process everything and to be ready to share my somewhat “happy ending.” It’s not a fairytale ending, but I have found peace within myself.
I don’t have any memories of Mr. Smith, but I always grew up knowing that he’d been a friend of my mother’s in Vietnam and had helped us flee in 1975. I have a couple of old photos—one where I’m in his arms in Saigon as an infant, and a second that was taken in the States a few years later, after my brother and I had been placed with a foster family and Jim came to visit.
In recent years, as I’ve reconnected with my past, returned to Vietnam, and learned more about my birth family, I began to wonder what had happened to Jim Smith and if I could find and thank him for rescuing us.
Unfortunately, my adoptive family had very little information about him—they believed he’d been a contractor for the South Vietnamese military and that he’d owned orange groves in central Florida, but they’d never heard from him again after a few visits. As you can imagine, trying to track down a man with the name Jim Smith after so many decades was daunting; I even learned that there’s a Jim Smith Society of men who share the name! My husband put together a simple web site and asked friends who’d worked in Saigon during the war whether they’d ever run across Mr. Smith; we figured that he would have needed good connections to get five kids on a plane as the city was falling. Unfortunately, while we got some tantalizing clues—including one man who contacted us and suggested Smith was a CIA agent he’d known—we never got anything concrete. Even the Freedom of Information Act requests to turn up my immigration paperwork went nowhere.
After many years of dead ends, I happened to be home for a rare visit with my adoptive family in early 2012 and asked whether they might still have any old files. They were surprised to turn up a dusty folder that contained a P.O. box address and phone number in Odessa, Fla., a small town near Tampa. After so many years, the number was no longer in service, but my journalist husband did some snooping and found the number for a church in Odessa with a good-sized cemetery. And the head of the cemetery guild, it turned out, remembered Jim Smith and how he’d helped a Vietnamese family!
With my family and Jim Smith's church acquaintances in Florida
Unfortunately, she told us, Jim had passed away many years ago, but he was buried behind the church, and his family home stood not far away. On July 22, my husband and I flew on Southwest to Tampa with our then-four-year-old son and met several of Jim Smith’s longtime friends. They told us that Jim had grown up in a family of orange growers; that he’d served in the U.S. Army; and that he’d gone to Vietnam to help the South Vietnamese Navy dredge canals.
Mr. Smith’s friends also told us how he would never let anyone pick up a check at the local diner. One of them recalled that, at Jim’s funeral, the pastor had said, “We lay to rest one of the last Southern gentlemen you’ll ever meet.”
My son James at Jim Smith's gravesite
My world came to a brief stop as I watched my son James place our bouquet of red roses and an American flag next to the gravesite. He understood the importance of our finding Mr. Smith. My very active and gregarious son sat quietly next to the tombstone, and my husband and I stood behind to give James a moment to himself with Mr. Smith. In my mind, I kept repeating that if it hadn’t been for Mr. Smith’s compassion for my family, I wouldn’t be staring at my God-given son.
This past August, Peter and I finally returned to Vietnam with James. We thought five would be a good age to make the trek to the third-world country and perhaps for him to be old enough to remember our trip. My brother Lam, who fled with me when I was two-and-a-half, met us in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City).
During our trip, we met with relatives who answered lingering questions about Mr. Smith, which brings me to this moment in time with you. It was confirmed that I was a premature baby and that my mother, Nuoi Thi Phan, had been Mr. Smith’s housekeeper in Saigon during the war. We lived in his apartment, and he grew to love me like his own daughter, helping provide the milk and other resources to nurture me to back to health. In fact, from the looks of my baby pictures, I grew to be quite a healthy, chubby baby. When I turned one, he threw big party to celebrate that I’d survived!
With Lam, my mother, and my cousin Lan on our balcony in Saigon
With my son and brother on the same balcony
Words can’t describe how happy I was to return to the apartment after 38 years with my son, husband, and brother. As I hugged James on the balcony, I thought about all that I had been blessed with as an American, and all the things that I want for James. James’ keen awareness of the significance of the house amazed me; he asked if we could run around the balcony as I once had when I was a toddler. He knew that this was the place where my mother had last held me.
We also learned that Mr. Smith has a son, who, as the war was ending, warned his father to get Nuoi’s children out of the country because the Communists were coming, and we would surely be killed. He also had helped process our sponsorship papers from the States. Unfortunately, he’s told me that his memories of Vietnam are so painful that he’s unable to tell me more about his father, or more details of how we came to flee to the U.S. But I will forever be grateful to both Smiths for their selfless acts in helping five kids—and, especially to Jim for saving my life … twice.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of your prayers and the positive messages to keep my faith as I searched for Mr. Smith. May the New Year bring you and your loved ones much love, laughter, and life!
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“And the Winner is…” Stomp, stomp, stomp, and more stomp, stomp, stomp!
Forty eight thunderous feet created a human drum roll, as I unsealed the envelope and announced that the New York chapter had received a coveted achievement award at the annual OCA Chapter Awards luncheon. And with a party mix booming in between award presentations, the high energy luncheon was a great way to kick off a very special Saturday.
Southwest was the official airline of the four-day OCA “Get out to Las Vegas, Get Out the Vote” National Convention August 2-5. Based in Washington, D.C., OCA (formerly called Organization of Chinese Americans) is a national nonprofit that aims to embrace the hopes and aspirations of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs). I not only appreciate what OCA National has contributed to the APA community over the past 39 years, but I applaud their leadership in standing up for what is right and building coalitions around issues affecting APAs. Just this year, OCA has been working hard to fight harassment in the military, racism in the fast food industry, and anti-Asian political rhetoric. More recently, OCA showed its solidarity with the Sikh community after the tragic shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and asked that we all work as a community to cultivate tolerance for all. Over the years, Southwest has worked alongside OCA to accomplish many things together. From supporting OCA’s efforts to help the New Orleans fishermen community after the Gulf Coast oil spill, to giving wings to various youth and leadership development programs, Southwest has been proud to partner with OCA. To top off the exciting day in Vegas, Southwest was honored to receive the “Corporate Partner of the Year” Award. As OCA President Ken Lee said, “On behalf of OCA and over 80 chapters and affiliates across the United States, we are pleased to recognize Southwest Airlines for their continued support and commitment to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans.”
Southwest shared the spotlight during the Saturday night Gala with individuals who were recognized for their exceptional contributions to the APA community. They included the Pioneer Award honorees: Major Kurt Chew-Een Lee, USMC, Ret. and author Maxine Hong Kingston; and Unsung Heroes: Clara Chiu (OCA-Greater Los Angeles), Victoria Ma (OCA-Greater Houston), Wooiyi Yin (OCA-Georgia), and Susie Yuen (OCA-New York). And last but not least, the Outstanding Citizen Achievement Awards were given to amazing community leaders and wonderful Southwest friends J.D. Hokoyama, Floyd Mori, and Karen Narasaki.
In my opinion, the real winning moment for Southwest occurred when Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion Ellen Torbert and I were sitting at the pre-Gala reception. Two summer interns named Christina Phan and Harris Leung introduced themselves and graciously thanked us for flying all the interns to the convention. After we had talked about how much FUN we’d all had at the Chapter Awards Luncheon, Ellen asked them if their internship had been a good one so far. Harris immediately replied, “No…it was life-changing.”
His sincere words melted our hearts, and I got a little choked up. With bright eyes and a beautiful smile, Ellen commented, “Isn’t that what it’s all about?” I couldn’t agree more.
Thank you OCA for not only for honoring Southwest, but for also nurturing tomorrow’s leaders. OCA is doing an extraordinary job in getting our young adults involved within their communities and opening their eyes to the challenges that the diverse APA community continues to face. We are ALL winners for it! All photos courtesy Rui Barros Photography
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Rachel Barry and I are still pinching ourselves (and massaging our feet) to make sure we didn’t dream all the priceless moments that happened when we raced the marathon of events that Southwest had the privilege of supporting earlier this month in Washington, D.C., as we celebrated Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month!
Ready, Set, Go!
For the warm-up mile, we met the attendees of the first South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) Young Leaders Institute. (http://www.saalt.org/) Fifteen university students, representing 13 campuses and cities, convened to explore South Asian American history and issues that impact South Asians in the U.S. Participants also learned how public policy is shaped; developed professional skills; connected with mentors; and created action plans to enact change on their campuses and in their communities.
“Southwest changed the lives of 15 emerging young agents of social change. Thanks to Southwest, the Young Leaders were able to travel to our nation’s capital, learn about important issues and strategies, and engage in peer exchange around shared experiences and ideas.” said Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of SAALT.
Vishal, a participant from the University of Maryland, added: "It's been a meaningful experience to see the constant exchange of ideas and networking and to see so many prominent officials doing what I want to do. There's so much room in politics for South Asians to grow.” Then we trekked on to the National Coalition for Asian Pacific Americans for Community Development’s (http://www.nationalcapacd.org/) first National Convening of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Southwest flew 25 NHPI community leaders to help create a national network and provide a unified voice for NHPI issues.
“It was a very historic convening for our community in the development of a Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Blueprint,” said Tana Lepule, Executive Director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities. “NHPIs and the Southwest family share the same Core Values: LUV - treating each other with dignity, respect and caring - and Fun. Therefore, we are OHANA (family)!!! It is our "Cultural Responsibility" as people of the Pacific Islands to have that Warriors Spirit, Servant's Heart and Fun-LUVing Attitude. Thanks again Southwest for your support in this Journey.”
“Thank you again (and again and again…), for supporting this transformative gathering! Southwest’s investment is going to have long-term ramifications on the ability of our community to strengthen ourselves through advocacy at the federal level and amongst other National AAPI organizations,” commented Sefa Aina, Vice-Chair, President's Advisory Commission on the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Next, I headed to the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies’ (APAICS) 12 th Annual Leadership Academy luncheon.
Executive Director Gloria Chan noted that this year's Academy included over 100 participants from 37 states and U.S. territories. “We wouldn't have been able to do it without Southwest,” she said.
Southwest also flew APAICS alumni to attend the inaugural Alumni Awards Breakfast. Congratulations to award winner Victoria Tung, a former APAICS fellow who’s now an associate director at the U.S. Department of Commerce; and Cerritos, Ca. Councilmember Mark E. Pulido, a former APAICS intern. Keeping up the PACE
We were so excited to finally meet the 40 ticket winners who, as part of celebrating Southwest’s 40 th anniversary, flew from Los Angeles to participate in Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment’s (http://pacela.org/) Project “Diversity and Democracy: America’s Strength.” PACE brought a sampling of their clients to share with elected officials how various federal programs have helped them become self-sufficient.
The ticket winners took time off from work and away from their families to participate; one of the small business owners who attended told us that in true small business fashion, his calligraphy shop was closed while he was away for four days. We were moved to tears to hear how PACE had changed their lives. PACE’s efforts were recognized at a Tri-Caucus Briefing on Capitol Hill and documented in the Congressional Record.
Kimberly Hua, a PACE Head Start Program Parent, said “This trip to Washington D.C. has truly been an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s opened my eyes to new and exciting opportunities. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to support the Head Start program and be an advocate for our families and communities. I went to bed with a dream and woke up with a purpose.”
A big thank you to LAX Customer Service Manager Jeff Boyer for going above and beyond for the group and to Karen Price Ward for meeting the delegation at the Tri-Caucus Briefing! The Grand Finish Line with the President of the United States
Finally, Rachel and I headed to a truly historic evening where President Obama was confirmed as the keynote speaker at the APAICS 18 th Annual Awards Gala! Rachel and Southwest Airlines Governmental Affairs Director David (a.k.a. Kawaki) Richardson hosted our new NHPI ohana, and as you can tell, everyone knew that Southwest was in the house and having FUN! “It was a very special occasion to have the President address our community’s rising leaders at our annual gathering,” said Gloria Chan, President and CEO of APAICS. “In the four decades since the first Asian American became mayor of a major U.S. city, the ranks of AAPI political leaders at all levels of government have grown by leaps and bounds. APAICS would not be able to help build the leadership pipeline without the support of Southwest Airlines.”
I was extremely proud to stand with over 1,000 old and new friends to hear President Obama highlight the many struggles, triumphs, and contributions made by AAPI trailblazers and to inspire the young leaders who were present. And I was so happy to see our dear community friends recognized for their leadership within the AAPI community: Floyd Mori, Karen Narasaki, C.C. Yin, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.
For full transcript and video of President Obama's keynote: http://tobiko.us/APAICS/APAICS/Remarks.html
And as a Vietnam refugee from 37 years ago, I was deeply honored to briefly meet President Obama; my first time meeting a president. I’m blessed to work for a Company that allows me to be me, to celebrate my Vietnamese heritage, and to give back to the AAPI community. The Karaoke Cool Down
At the end of all the speeches, pomp, and circumstance, Congressman Mike Honda, former chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, AAPI icon, and one of my mentors, wrapped things up doing what he does best! In between learning to hula and singing to the worst of the 80s with our community partners, Rachel and I had an unforgettable 72 hours celebrating AAPI Heritage Month at our nation’s Capitol. Cheers to an extraordinary Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
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We're about to reunite with a very special group who won our hearts last year. In celebration of Southwest's big 4-0 last summer, we gave away 40 tickets to 40 nonprofits (for a total of 1,600 roundtrip tickets on Southwest Airlines). One of the lucky winners was the nonprofit organization Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE). It just so happens we're about to be at the same place as them, in celebration of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This year to celebrate, we’re excited to sponsor and participate in a range of national events. We'll be participating in the first national youth leadership summit put on by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development's inaugural Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander National Convening. Finally, we'll represent Southwest at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies' National Leadership Academy and 18th Annual Gala Awards Dinner.
But having the opportunity to meet our friends at PACE will be truly special. Founded in Los Angeles in 1976, PACE works to create economic solutions to meet the challenges of employment, education, housing, business development, and the environment in the Asian Pacific and other diverse communities. PACE will be using their 40 tickets to help fly clients and staff to the AAPI Month festivities.
“We are very excited for our Diversity and Democracy: America’s Strength project that has been made possible by your Showing LUV to our Communities for 40 Years Contest. We are deeply grateful to Southwest Airlines," said Kerry Doi, PACE President and CEO.
The stars aligned for us when I learned through another community partner that PACE would be in D.C. at the same time we would. My Coworker Rachel Barry and I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to see our tickets in action, and to get to know Kerry and his amazing colleagues, who captivated us with a compelling essay entry last year.
According to the 2010 Census, the Asian population grew faster than any other race group in the United States. 17.3 million people (5.6% percent) in the U.S. indentify as Asian, either alone or in combination with one or more other races. Southwest is proud to support the AAPI community throughout the country and year. To learn more about our community efforts, please visit our Asian Outreach page.
We’ll tell you all about our trip when we return, but until then... Happy Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
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In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, our Employees, Customers, community partners, legends, and leaders share their thoughts about being Asian American & Pacific Islander: Tuesday, May 31: “I'm really not any important leader but would like to be a role model for the young people. I am proud of my heritage and thankful that my parents came to America where my siblings and I were born. I am proud to be an American. I would not care to be a citizen of any other country in the world.” – Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Hershey Miyamura, Gallup, New Mexico “I see myself as an American first, but I’m proud to be an Asian American. Coming to this country at 10 years of age, with a two-year-old sister to look after, I told myself to let go of the past, accept my new future, and take it head on. So growing up in my adopted country, living with my adopted American family and going to my adopted American school, I learned to fully adopt this country. I worked hard learning my new language, played football until junior year in high school, dated American girls. I had an American childhood, even though I was the only Asian kid in my group of friends. Through my experiences, I learned to be humble, be open to learning, always look on the positive, appreciate what I have and most important of all, treat others like I want them to treat me. “Now as an adult, I've learned that my experience was not that unique. The one year I lived in California, I learned that there are other Vietnamese-Americans who had similar experiences growing up; they now own major companies, get involved in public service, and are leaving their mark on this country. The younger they are, the more American they become. I am proud to be Vietnamese American in this country of opportunities and of personal freedom -- not many other countries have these beliefs. I am proud of who I am, what I have experienced, where I have been, what I have accomplished, and what might be ahead of me in the future.” – Lam Phan McNulty, Architect (and Kim Delevett’s Big Bro and Hero), Birmingham, AL. Monday, May 30: “I’m proud of my Asian American heritage and being able to blend the two cultures together and to learn from each is fulfilling. I feel the values and traits of my Japanese ancestors have been instilled in me through my parents and grandparents, and I know their sacrifices paved the way for me to live the American dream.” – Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic Gold Medalist, Alamo, CA Sunday, May 29: “Being Asian American means practicing blending values of the greater good and independence. It means practicing civic responsibilities such as voting and serving on juries. It means embodying respect, reciprocity and integrity to create a compassionate, educated and responsible society. It means appreciating life on multicultural levels." – Leslie Moe-Kaiser, PhD, State Farm Public Affairs, Bloomington, IL Saturday, May 28: “As an Asian American, I have had the opportunity to be a voice of our community, which I am proud of. For the vast majority of our more than 400 year history in America, Asian Americans played a minor role in the civic development of our great nation. In significant part, this was attributable to discrimination and perceptions of discrimination. The Pan Asian American organization that I founded, the National Asian American Coalition, is a vital part of a new and greater America. We raise our voices in the halls of Congress and among all the federal and state regulators on behalf of low income minorities, immigrants and our nation’s 18.5 million Asian Americans.” – Faith Bautista, President & CEO, National Asian American Coalition, San Bruno, CA. Friday, May 27: "Being Asian American is a source of great strength and tremendous responsibilities for me and the entire OCA family. As with all communities, we are empowered to reach for the American dream by those who have come before us and their accomplishments. Equally important is the recognition that our success is built upon the challenges that have already been overcome; and have value only if we pay it forward. I may be an immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen, but I stand on the shoulders of those who built the intercontinental railroad, endured internment camps, and gave their lives to protect America's freedoms. Today, being Asian American means protecting our students from being bullied, helping Gulfcoast fisherfolks build new small businesses, and helping all Americans rebuild our economy and civil discourse." – George Wu, Executive Director, OCA National, Washington, D.C. Thursday, May 26: “As a bilingual & bicultural Asian American, I have the privilege of understanding the east & the west, and have a wider scope to life. Never forget your roots but be open mind to the new.” – Vicky Wong, President & CEO, DAE Advertising, San Francisco Wednesday, May 25: “Being Asian American means I'm bicultural in an increasingly multicultural world. And, it adds a different dimension to my life as an American. I find it easier to navigate between my own cultural heritage and other cultures. It's a gift that I love sharing with others.” – Bill Imada, President & CE0, IW Group Inc, Los Angeles Tuesday, May 24: “As a 4 th generation Japanese American, my generation is holding on to our traditions. We’re so Americanized and the vast majority of my generation does not speak Japanese.” – Jeffrey Osaki, Southwest Operations Agent, San Jose Monday, May 23: “Being Asian American means wearing many layers of identity. At first glance, a man of Asian ancestry. At first spoken word, an American. At deeper reflection, a person of color in America. At the core, a person who seeks peace and social justice.” – Eddie Wong, Executive Director, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, San Francisco Sunday, May 22: “Being Asian American means celebrating the contributions Asians have made to America, that have enabled America to contribute to the world. The essence of being American is self-definition and self-realization; no other country celebrates and benefits from diversity as much as ours, and it is the key to our strength and stature. Asian Americans should be proud of the incredible role they and their ancestors have played alongside immigrants from across the globe in building this great nation.” – Jay Chen, President Hacienda-La Puente Board of Education, Hacienda Heights, CA Saturday, May 21: “As a Lao American, being Lao or Asian American means embracing one’s cultural heritage and the mainstream’s, while retaining one’s personal values and beliefs.” -Vinya Sysamouth, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Lao Studies, San Francisco Friday, May 20: “Being Asian American means having a key to a 5,000+ year old library where the wisdom and the lessons from the past can be shared with the world.” – Wellington Chen, Executive Director Chinatown Partnership, New York Thursday, May 19: “Being a Pacific Islander means I am capable in positively shaping the future for myself, but more importantly for future generations around the world. My deep roots in family and islander culture helps me to stay grounded while I help others soar to new heights. Being a Pacific Islander means I am devoted to showing my islander brothers and sisters their full potential in the world and how we all matter. Being a Pacific Islander means preserving our culture while evolving with society. Being Pacific Islander means being me.” –Terrina Gogue, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies Intern, Washington, D.C. Wednesday, May 18: “To me, being Asian American is all about identity. Only in America are race relations so highly tense, talked about, and criticized—and yet this dialogue often excludes Asian Americans, especially Southeast Asians. Becoming Asian American is a process of identity formation, exploration and recreation. It is the amalgamation of part Asian, part American, part self. It is Thanksgiving dinner with eggrolls and stir fry. It is a discovery, but once uncovered, it is a precious gem.” - Bruce Thao, Special Projects Manager Hmong National Development & Ph.D. Student, St. Paul, MN Tuesday, May 17: “Being Asian American has two elements on both sides of the spectrum of feelings. The specter of being the perpetual foreigner brings with it the issues of discrimination and bigotry. However, the values that remain with me from my heritage and the pride that understanding that heritage gives to me helps me to overcome any of the negatives that society has chosen to inflict upon the Asian American. I am proud of the space that Asian Americans have woven into the American tapestry.” –Floyd Mori, National Executive Director & CEO, Japanese American Citizens League, Washington, D.C. Monday, May 16: “To me, growing up as a Filipino-American has meant having a rich and amazing culture and heritage that I strongly identify with, and which I find very enriching to continually learn about. Learning about the lives of my parents, my ancestors, and the other Asian cultures that I have had the fortune to grow up with, has been a large part of my identity. It's a pleasure to share what I've learned with those around me, and I look forward to passing this on to the next generation.” –Eric Alog, Southwest Operations Agent, San Jose Sunday, May 15: “Being Asian American means that I come from a community that can navigate between different worlds. At our best, we have the talent, creativity and strength to combine the best that each has to offer.” -Tuyet Le, Executive Director, Asian American Institute, Chicago Saturday, May 14: “To be Asian American and Pacific Islander is to be fully American while deriving strength and sharing our heritage, and to be recognized as contributing our share in building America.” -Dr. Michael Chang, Founder, Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute, Cupertino, CA. Friday, May 13: “Being a Pacific Islander is a great feeling for me. I am proud of who I am and the values that are instilled in me. Some of these values are pride, integrity, and a sense of love. And if you should ever be in SJC and ask anyone in our station family, “What do you think about Kavika?” I think those words will best define who I am. – Kavika Tautolo, Southwest Ramp Supervisor, San Jose Thursday, May 12: “Being Asian American means that I am tied to generations that came before, like my father and the other men of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who sacrificed everything to create better opportunities for their families and their community. In the same way, I believe that it is my duty to give back to the community and work diligently to ensure that I am paving the way for future generations. For that reason, my work at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund is very important because it helps create opportunities for APIA students to pursue education and equip themselves with the skills needed to lead the next generation.” -Neil Horikoshi, President & Executive Director, Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, Washington, D.C. Wednesday, May 11: "To me, being Asian American means being a part of a long history of people who have risen up in social movements, who have given their lives to this country, and who add to the diversity of America. It means bridging two worlds, the world of my birth and my parents' homeland-Laos-and the world that I grew up in and call home, America. It means transforming the refugee experiences of my youth into a passion for championing the rights of all people to participate in our democracy." - Doua Thor, Executive Director, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Washington, D.C. Tuesday, May 10: “The poetry of small acts, tracing a shared history, the smell of cooked rice, the sight of shoes at the door, migration mixed with the tales of filial generations, being woven into the cultural fabric of everyday American life.” – Konrad Ng, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Creative Media, University of Hawaii, and Senior Adviser, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, Washington, D.C.
“What does being Asian American mean to me? It means being part of a diverse collective of people with a complimentary and sometimes conflicting history abroad and in the United States. It also means being influenced at a personal level by both India and the United States, and by the other Asian Americans.” – Pawan Dhingra, Ph.D., Museum Curator, Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Program/HomeSpun Initiative, Washington, D.C. Monday, May 9: “My grandfather worked with Gandhi to secure India's independence, spending four years in jail. His example helps me keep a focus on human rights in my work. Congressman Honda is a contemporary role model for many of us. His selfless service to the community and principled leadership is an inspiration for us all. He represents the best of what Asian Americans have to offer in public service to this country.” – Ro Khanna, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce Sunday, May 8: "Being a first generation Asian American immigrant to this great nation in the early 1970's clearly shaped the way I view the world around me. I have a strong sense of obligation to share that immigrant experience and strive to work towards equal opportunities for Asian Americans and all other minorities so we can all reach our potential in our personal and professional lives." -David T. Lin, Director of Constituency Relations, AT&T, Bedminster, NJ Saturday, May 7: “Being Asian American means I have over two centuries history of behind me. It's means being part of a broad and diverse community that includes history makers, bridge builders, rabble rousers, ground breakers, leaders and humanitarians. Being Asian American is being me and proud to be Asian American.” – Linda Akutagawa, SVP Resource and Business Development, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Los Angeles Friday, May 6: “Asian Pacific American Month is a great time to reflect on the accomplishments and contributions Asian Americans have provided for this great country. I am very proud of the values that both cultures, Indian and American, have instilled in me. And, I hope to pass on the positive elements of both to future generations to come.” -Rishi Mehta, Southwest Airlines Manager of Online Products, Dallas Thursday, May 5: “It was really during the fight for Ethnic Studies at Cal that I learned a lot about my family’s history, why it was divided, and the Chinese Exclusion Act that kept families apart. People know me as this nice, middle-aged, Asian American elected official. They have no idea of the kind of movements I worked on when I was younger and the kinds of changes that have happened. Today we see more and more elected Asian-American officials, mayors like myself and Ed Lee in San Francisco, when a generation ago our community was really fighting for representation. It was the connection to the civil rights struggle broadly that made a difference in people’s lives.” – Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Wednesday, May 4: “I am proud to be an American born in Philadelphia to Chinese immigrants and able to share my Chinese heritage and Chinese American experience with my friends and the greater society. I'm able to blend the best of both cultures to help the U.S. become a truly unique multicultural society. APA Month is an opportunity to inform and educate all Americans about the significant historical contributions Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders have made to this country. It is also an opportunity to inform this nation about the current contributions we are making whether in the arts, the political arena or in the economic arena, to name a few fields. My hope is that this nation celebrates the richness that Asian Pacific Islander Americans contribute to this great nation of ours 365 days a year and not just in the month of May.” – Daphne Kwok, Executive Director, Asians & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California, San Francisco Tuesday, May 3: “What does being Asian American mean to me? It means that I am at the right place at the right time. America is a young country and making great strides as a leader of the free world. Asia is an ancient civilization that can be credited with many innovations from paper, fireworks, art, music, philosophy, etc. The fusion of these two cultures has given me pride to be an Asian American...besides who could not like Chinese food!” – Ruby G. Moy, Senior Advisor, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, Washington, D.C. Ruby spearheaded the legislation to designate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month; the bill was sponsored by the late Congressman Frank Horton and then-Congressman Norman Y. Mineta. Monday, May 2: "Each May, our nation pays tribute to the contributions of generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) who have enriched our history. In this nation founded by immigrants, AAPIs have made a mark on our national landscape -- providing labor for important national infrastructure such as the Transcontinental Railroad, creating jobs for all Americans through entrepreneurship, and offering leadership in the business, government, and civic sectors. Asian Pacific American Heritage month is not only a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the AAPI community, but also a time to look ahead. The Census recently released a report that the ‘Asian alone’ population grew faster than any other major race group between 2000-2010, increasing by 43 percent. There is no doubt that as the population of the AAPI community continues to grow, we will increasingly play a critical role in contributing to the economic, political, and social developments of this country. Each of the 45 distinct ethnic groups and 28 language groups has contributed and will continue to contribute to the fabric of our nation. "When I was young, I lived at Camp Amache, a Japanese-American internment camp in southeast Colorado during World War II. One of the first lessons I learned was that being Japanese carried a negative connotation in America. My parents raised me talking about the injustices of camp, how it was a violation of the Constitution, and how Japanese Americans had been mistreated. I've since followed in their footsteps by advocating for social justice and publically serving communities that do not have a voice. The reason we were sent to camp is because no one in Washington said no. I’m here in Congress to make sure that never happens again to any community in America.” – Congressman Mike Honda, (CA-District 15)
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Thank you for posting your comment! Yes, it's an exciting month for us to share our stories, especially with our youth. Please come back and visit each day of the month; we've got 20 more days of wonderful quotes. Take care and Happy APA Month! Kim
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I’ve waited 2 ½ years to share my feelings about this exact moment in time.
My only child, James Phan Delevett, has now reached the same age I was -- 2 ½ -- when I fled my homeland of Vietnam, in April 1975, and was separated from my biological mother, Nuoi Thi Phan. My 10-year-old brother and I would never see her again. My mother was supposed to be on the same flight with us, but because she wanted to say goodbye to my uncle in a small town hours from Saigon, she got caught up in the mass exodus of refugees -- and missed the plane with her only children on board.
As I’m constantly amazed by what my toddler already comprehends and remembers, I catch myself wondering: when I was his age during a scary and chaotic wartime, did I understand that no one knew when my mommy was coming back to caress me in her arms again? How much did I cry, hurt, and yearn for her?
I see in James my childhood self. I wonder if, before we fled Saigon, I flew across the hallway every morning as he does, looking for mommy and gleefully shrieking, “Hug and kiss!” And once, while trying to brush James’ teeth, I discovered a small wad of breakfast that must have been tucked in his pudgy cheek for half an hour. I immediately thought of how in the refugee camps, I used to hold onto food in my cheeks, because I wasn’t sure when I was going to be fed again.
Thankfully, I was too young to remember those camps, or seeing people shot outside of our house in Saigon; I don’t recall the sounds of heavy artillery and the shrill of my mother’s fearful voice as she tried to safeguard her family. Unfortunately, my brother has those memories, and it is because of his fragmented stories that I’m able to piece together my formative years.
Last year, after Southwest posted my life’s story on the Company’s Internal website during Asian Pacific American Month, I was very humbled and deeply touched by many heartfelt messages from Coworkers from across the country, most of whom I had never met.
I have to admit, I was a little uncomfortable when I was asked to share my interview with our 35,000 Employees. But as I read the LUVing notes of gratitude, I was so pleased to know that my story was helping others of all backgrounds to look inside themselves and better appreciate their lives, families, roots, opportunities, and Freedoms.
As many of you already know from the NBC interview, I grew up ashamed of my identity and heritage. It was not until after college, in 1994, that I boarded a plane back to Vietnam to learn about my roots – and unexpectedly reunited with my uncle and his extended family. That trip began the process of finding myself.
Ironically, it was also in the month of April – April 28, 1996, to be exact – that I launched my career with the LUV airline. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that through my Community Affairs & Grassroots work, the girl who grew up ashamed of being “different” from her peers -- teased for her slanty eyes, having no baby pictures for Show and Tell, embarrassed by the simple question “Where were you born?” -- would be afforded opportunities to share her journey and help other young adults.
One particular experience that is etched in my mind happened last year, while I was a guest speaker for an Asian Pacific American summer youth leadership academy in Cupertino, CA. During the Q&A, the executive director posed the question: “How many of you have ever wanted or would like to be another color?” The majority of the classroom raised their hands; my heart and soul ached for each of them.
Every one of us has a unique story. This May, I want to make sure that more voices are heard during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I’ve asked partners, community leaders, Employees, and Customers to answer one question: What does being Asian American & Pacific Islander mean to you? Each day of the month, their quotes will reveal our collective histories, the pride in our many triumphs, the conviction in our continued struggles, and our hopes for generations yet to come. The quotes will tell our Asian Pacific American story.
To me, being Asian American is finally being comfortable in my own skin. It’s being vulnerable enough to share the painful parts of my past, to let others who might be feeling alone and confused know that we can lean on each other and find solace and healing in our commonalities. It is our responsibility to preserve and tell our stories, to help our children understand their past and take pride in their being. I pray that my son will never feel ashamed of his heritage or for looking, well, like an American! I’m proud to be Vietnamese-American, and to be among the 17.3 million family members of Asian descent.
On behalf of the little man who’s the joy of my life, thank you to all the aunties and uncles who contributed their poignant words for our special month. Each of you has already made, and will continue to make, a difference in his budding life.
From San Francisco to New Orleans to Washington, D.C., Southwest will honor the month with various local and national organizations throughout the country. Please visit our Asian Outreach webpage and click on Upcoming Events to see a calendar of events and programs in May. And during Asian Pacific American Month, please keep in mind the victims of the Japanese tsunami and their loved ones here and abroad. You can support the relief efforts by donating to the Red Cross.
We hope you share and celebrate your unique histories with LUVed ones this month, Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! This post is brought to you in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
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Thank YOU for your dedication and tireless efforts in helping our APA youth reach their full potential. We're proud to support APIASF, and I'm really looking forward to attending your first Higher Education Summit next month! ~Kim
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Thank you so much for sharing your blog and for leadership within the greater APA community! (In case the readers don't know, Deepa is SAALT's executive director.)
Happy APA Month back to you and SAALT!
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Daphne, I couldn't agree more. Despite how they were treated in the internment camps in our country's darkest days, both Secretary Mineta and Congressman Honda exemplify patriotism and leadership beyond measure. Thank you Daphne for all of your tireless work; you are a role model to all!
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You are a true legend...
As the mother of APA month, you helped change the course of history for all Asian Pacific Americans! I'm so honored to know and work with you.
As for James, he's definitely the master of the house!
THANK YOU again Ruby for sharing your story with us and for all that you continue to do for the community.
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Each May, our nation pays tribute to the contributions of generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have enriched our history. Today, over 16 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up one of the fastest growing and most diverse populations in the United States. Each of the 45 distinct ethnic groups and 28 language groups contributes to the fabric of our nation. In this nation founded by immigrants, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made their mark on our cultural landscape -- providing labor for important national infrastructure such as the Transcontinental Railroad, creating jobs for all Americans through entrepreneurship, and offering leadership in the business, government, and civic sectors. Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have also faced challenges and discrimination, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Japanese American Internment, racial profiling after September 11, and cultural and linguistic barriers in schools, hospitals, and voting booths. Addressing these injustices throughout our nation’s history has strengthened civil rights and civil liberties and has helped to make our country a more perfect union. ~ U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, May 2010 Thank you, Congressman Honda, for sharing that important message with Southwest’s Employees and Customers. To mark Asian Pacific American Heritage month over the years, I’ve highlighted Southwest’s community outreach efforts; helped showcase Asian Pacific American achievements with fun trivia; shared stories about Japanese American war heroes; and even shared a personal anecdote about coming to terms with, and being proud of, my Vietnamese American heritage. As a Community Affairs & Grassroots Manager, I have the honor of working with extraordinary Asian Pacific Americans and community groups - all passionate about making a difference within the APA community and for the greater good. This year, I’ve asked a few leading community icons to reflect on Asian Pacific American Heritage month with you. And we’re fortunate to have the “living legends” who were responsible for the historic Asian Pacific American Heritage month legislation that we now celebrate every May. The Honorable Ruby G. Moy and The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta were kind enough to share their thoughts. Ruby is the acting executive director of the national nonprofit Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. APAICS strives to increase participation by people of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office. Ruby recalls: When I started working for Congressman Frank Horton (R-NY) as his deputy administrative assistant in 1973, little did I realize that he was a staunch supporter of Asians. He was the primary sponsor of the bill to recognize a week in May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, and then later as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The co-sponsor was Congressman Norman Y. Mineta (D-CA). In those days, in order to get a bill passed to recognize a day/week/month it had to have 216 signatures. I spearheaded this legislation each Congress until it was finally signed into perpetuity by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Getting those signatures presented a challenge, especially the last 50. When I asked if Ruby had any advice for our young leaders of tomorrow, she quoted American playwright Tennessee Williams. “’Life’s a journey,’ he said. I have used that quote many times but always added, ‘take it.’” Former Commerce & Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, who co-sponsored the bill that established Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, offered these poignant words: I don’t believe this country to be a melting pot -- because in a ‘melting pot,’ all the ingredients are put into a crucible and stirred up and everything loses its own identity. I think of the United States as a tapestry, with each yarn representing a country or an ethnicity. And each of those yarns is strong and beautiful on its own, representing the language, the art, the culture or the religion of our forebears, wherever they came from. But when the yarns are all woven together, it makes for a strong whole. That to me is the United States. That’s why Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is so important, so that we can all learn about each other. Another community trailblazer is Daphne Kwok, chair of Asian Pacific Islander Vote (APIAVote), which focuses on voter mobilization and civic participation by the APA community. She shares how far we’ve come: From APA Heritage Week to APA Heritage Month. From one AAPI Cabinet Secretary under President Clinton – The Honorable Norman Mineta – to three under President Obama (The Honorable Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy; The Honorable Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce; and The Honorable Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs). We’ve come from one pioneering female AAPI Member of the House of Representatives – Patsy Mink, who championed Title IX, allowing girls the opportunity to participate in collegiate athletics – to now three AAPI Congresswomen: The Honorable Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, The Honorable Doris Matsui of California and the Honorable Judy Chu of California. There have been advances in so many fields, especially in the political field. Yes, AAPIs still face numerous barriers, specifically the glass ceiling in employment, in the judiciary, in so many different areas. But we are being recognized for our contributions to this nation. There are new faces of leadership coming to the forefront and gaining visibility. I am affiliated with a number of AAPI organizations, and almost every one of them has been supported by Southwest over the years. Thank you so much for your continued commitment to an exciting AAPI community. On May 3rd, Southwest will kick off the special month with APIAVote’s “New Faces of Leadership” Forum in Washington, D.C., (http://www.apiavote.org/). And on May 11th, Southwest will celebrate with APAICS at their 16th Annual Awards Dinner Gala (http://www.apaics.org/). To learn about some of the other community organizations that Southwest supports, please read our guest blogs from OCA National, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund that will be appearing throughout the month. Through my community affairs work, I’ve heard countless stories of what our first and second generation forefathers and foremothers sacrificed and overcame to succeed in America. As a Vietnam War refugee, I know the heartache of leaving loved ones and a motherland behind, but I also know what freedom and opportunity can provide. As a community, we must remember our past, our collective history, and never take our freedoms for granted. During Asian Pacific American Heritage month, spend time with your parents and grandparents, and record your family story for posterity. And the next time you share a moment with an elder, I encourage you to just say “thank you.” Ruby, Daphne, Secretary Mineta, and Congressman Honda, thank you for participating in our celebration this month – and for paving the way for my generation, my child’s, and generations to come. Your dedication to advancing the APA cause and your Servant-Leadership have broken down the barriers, and all Americans are richer for it. Congressman Mike Honda and my son, James Phan Delevett
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Everyone knows February 14 is Valentine’s Day, your LUV Airline’s favorite holiday. But while you’re swapping red envelopes with love notes inside, millions of Asian Americans will be opening a different kind of red envelopes. That’s because the date also kicks off the Lunar New Year, and for the next 15 days, Asian people here and overseas will be celebrating the Year of the Tiger with centuries-old customs. Some of those traditions include visiting relatives; preparing specialty dishes; cleaning and decorating their homes; praying to ancestors and deities; settling debts; burning incense and paper money; setting off firecrackers to ward off evil spirits; and, yes, offering children those money-filled red envelopes--all for good luck in the new year. And here in the Bay Area, thousands of folks will line the streets of downtown San Francisco later this month to watch the annual Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade – recognized as one of the country’s best parades. Find out more at www.chineseparade.com. Fun Facts: Each year in the Lunar Calendar is named for an animal, and every 12 years the cycle repeats. Tigers are romantic, independent, brave, kind, and daring, to name a few traits. Famous Tigers include Beethoven, Rosie O'Donnell, Queen Elizabeth II, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marilyn Monroe, and Tom Cruise! Wishing you and your families lots for LUV and good fortune in the year of the Tiger! Gung hay fat choy – or, as they say in my native Vietnam, chuc mung nam moi!
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Well, the results are finally in, and a few event details have been confirmed--judging by your nearly 200 comments, there was unequivocally a favorite pick. By a wide margin, Dave was your favorite --and most importantly, Chef Ramsay’s, too. The “One-Armed Bandit” stole the competition, and I have to admit, I was rooting for him as well. What a fighter to the very suspenseful finish. But KUDOS to Kevin and the only “Madame” left cooking in the final three. Even though Kevin and Ariel didn’t win Araxi’s top spot, they’re welcome to cook for me anytime! Now, on to the BIG winner: which of you not only predicted the correct winner, but offered the best reason why? Our judges LUVed reading all of your posts, including: “As a Hell's Kitchen and Gordon Ramsay fanatic, I can honestly say that Dave is the most talented and motivated chef to ever grace that red and blue arena of doom. Dave, with one arm, has cooked circles around the competition and has so much determination, I would be comfortable flying on Southwest with him as my captain. Dave's passion for quality, consistency, and holding his standards high make him my choice as winner for this year.” Brad H — Tue, 10/13/2009 - 09:59 “I think Dave should win. He's not cocky like Kevin and is quick even with one arm. Dave has certainly proven his skills! Imagine how great he will be with two hands :) He is driven and awesome. I hope he wins so he can afford a hair cut. Won't he be oh so cute with short hair? Yes. Yes, he will :)” Jones — Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:29 On Facebook, Kim Leah Harris’ post made us chuckle: "DAVE!! I am quite certain he could even handle the exit row and baggage stowing! The PA might be a bit monotone though, he could make up for it with a cooking demo following his seatbelt demo but some of the ladies might need oxygen ...... :) What a great prize guys!" But the one that we liked the best was from Felicia Hamm in Jacksonville, FL: "Who should win - Dave (Broken hand); Kevin (Broken Foot) or Ariel. I am torn between the two guys. However, I am going to go with Dave since he has been cooking with 1 hand the entire season and I have had 2 healthy hands and burn microwaveable popcorn. Go Dave." Her comment on our Facebook wall struck a chord with all of us in Communications. Our break room tends to suffer from burned popcorn more than we'd like to admit... Thanks HK fans for posting your picks, and tune into Hell’s Kitchen next season. And congratulations to Felicia! We hope you have a fabulous Southwest flight to Los Angeles for your VIP visit at Hell's Kitchen. Thanks to all of our HK fans for your patience, and for posting your picks and fun reads!
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Hi Steve~ Congratulations on your upcoming move to the Gulf Coast! I was raised in Pensacola, and you're going to love the sugar white sand beaches. I live in California and really miss the warm Gulf Coast waters. Happy Thanksgiving and best of luck with your move!
Thank you for your kind note and for flying Southwest, Happy Thanksgiving!
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As I’m writing this post and getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, I can watch the gold and orange leaves fall to the ground outside of my office. It doesn’t seem like over a year ago I wrote, “The ABC’s of the Southwest Airlines’ Corporate Community Affairs Team.” Time has zipped by, and I’m no longer the new kid on the block. As with the change of seasons, the team has a few exciting announcements, and I wanted to share the great news on the blog! Now called “Community Affairs & Grassroots,” our team’s core mission of championing causes that matter most in the communities we serve hasn’t changed. What has undeniably changed is the addition of our six special Team members: Monica Whalin, Patty Kryscha, Ana Schwager, Jane McAtee, Alison Hoefler, and Jacque Mallard. What used to be a mighty all-female cast of seven is now a powerhouse baker’s dozen--with a combined 177 years of experience at Southwest! A FEW MUST-KNOWS: Monica, our go-to lady for all Legislative Communications & Grassroots program efforts, LUVS skiing, traveling, shopping, and Dallas’ restaurant Fireside Pies. If you can’t find Patty dining at a mom and pop Italian restaurant in Chicago, you may catch her working with our community partners in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Boston, New York, Long Island, and Pittsburgh. One thing’s for sure, you won’t find Patty at a chain restaurant. Ana, who’ll be busy forging relationships in St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, and Omaha, can’t get enough hot tamales and likes globe trotting to New York and Paris…ahh, Parreee! If Jane isn’t spreading the Southwest LUV in Denver or Kansas City, you may find her in Aspen or on the green hitting a hole in one. When Chef Alison isn’t baking, watching the Food Network, or dining at Carnegie Deli in New York, she’ll be making waves in the Jacksonville, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale, Panama City, and Jackson communities. Jacque, who has a hankering for big steaks and HOT Krispy Krème donuts (not at the same time), will be supporting our team from Dallas headquarters. This Thanksgiving, I’m most thankful for my family, friends, and team Frauleins: Laura, Lidia, Chris, Jackie, Karen, Anabell, Patty, Ana, Jane, Alison, Jacque, Monica, Laurie, and Linda. Happy "Gobble Gobble" to you and your families.
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Hi HK Fans!
Thank you for your patience. We had so many great responses, and it was hard for us to pick our favorite. We've chosen a winner and are working on a few details before making the official announcement. So hang tight and thanks again for posting your picks!
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Well, tonight’s the big two-hour finale of Hell’s Kitchen, where we’ll see which chef Gordon Ramsay picks to run Araxi Restaurant in Whistler. The season’s flown by! It seems like just a few weeks ago that Kymberli and I were in L.A. for the taping of the season premiere, crying over spilled shrimp. Since then, we’ve watched Dallas’ own Van Hurd fight his way into the top six; Joseph try to pick a fight with Chef Ramsay; and almost everyone else fight back tears. Along the way, my hubby Pete became a Hell’s Kitchen convert, going through withdrawal between Tuesday nights. In fact, he’s on a mission to find Van’s restaurant the next time we’re in Big D. Over the season, I’ve also appreciated the heart-warming aspects of this take-no-prisoners competition: Chef Ramsay and friends organizing a surprise homecoming for a military hero, feeding hungry firemen, introducing kids to haute cuisine, and even picking up trash along the freeway. Hey, I’d pick up trash too for a handmade lunch by Chef Nobu! If you've been watching all season, you probably saw a cameo by our very favorite airline, Southwest, as we flew the chefs to Las Vegas. We want to thank Kym’s brother, Hell’s Kitchen Executive Producer Kent Weed, for taking the time to answer questions from our Southwest blog readers. (It’s funny to think that this all happened because Kym and I met years ago to work on Southwest’s battle against the Wright Amendment.) And we’d also like to thank our readers for their great questions and support of the show. In fact, we’re going to reward one of you with the ‘BIG SURPRISE’ I promised before: Post a comment below (or via Twitter using the hashtag #hkswa or Southwest Airlines Facebook page) by 6:00 p.m. CT tonight letting us know who you think should win tonight’s finale and why. The person with our favorite answer will win two roundtrip tickets on Southwest; enjoy two VIP passes to a dinner taping of Season 8’s Hell’s Kitchen (complete with pickup from LAX by HK); and…drum roll…you might even meet Chef Gordon Ramsay! UPDATE: Folks, a winner has been picked! Please stay tuned while we figure out the details. The person and their winning entry will be announced here soon! Good luck, post your pick, and stay tuned to see if you’re the lucky winner! The winner will be announced here tomorrow! In the words of Gordon Ramsay, "May the best chef win!" CONTEST RULES “Hell’s Kitchen Contest” NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. 1. How to Enter the Contest a. Southwest Airlines “Hell’s Kitchen Contest” (“Contest”) will begin on or around 10 a.m. CT on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 and will end on or around 6 p.m. CT on Tuesday, October 13, 2009. b. Southwest Airlines is not responsible for lost, stolen, mangled, mis-delivered, postage due, illegible, incomplete or late entries, telephone service outages, delays, busy signals, equipment malfunctions and any other technological difficulties that may prevent an individual from completing his/her telephone call.] c. To participate in the Contest, you may enter via the following method: Sumbit a comment letting us know who you think should win tonight’s Hell’s Kitchen finale and why via Southwest Airlines Twitter account @SouthwestAir using the hashtag “#Hkswa,” via the Southwest Airlines Facebook page, or via the Southwest Airlines blog Nuts About Southwest. All entries submitted become the sole property of Southwest Airlines and will not be acknowledged or returned. Use of any device to automate entry is prohibited. Proof of submission of an entry shall not be deemed proof of receipt by Southwest. Southwest Airlines computer is the official time keeping device for the contest. Southwest is not responsible for entries not received due to difficulty accessing the internet, service outage or delays, computer difficulties or other technological glitches. d. One internet entry per person and one internet entry per email address is permitted. 2. Eligibility Restrictions a. The contest is open to all persons who are 21 years of age or older. Employees of Southwest Airlines and the members of their immediate families and or households are ineligible to participate or win. b. Only one winner per household is permitted in any Contest administered by Southwest. c. Entrants are required to provide truthful information and Southwest will reject and delete any entry that it discovers to be false or fraudulent. Southwest Airlines will disqualify any entry from individuals who do not meet the eligibility requirements, and Southwest Airlines will also delete any entry received from persons under the age of 13 in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.] 3. Prizes: a. One (1) First Prize: The winner will receive a trip for two (2) (winner and guest, age 21 or older) to Los Angeles, CA for a two-night stay. Trip includes round trip airfare, 2-night standard double occupancy and hotel accommodations (one room). (Approximate Retail Value ("ARV"): $1,000) but will vary depending on travel origination and fares in effect at the time of departure, and two VIP passes to a dinner taping of Season 8’s Hell’s Kitchen. Certain travel restrictions may apply. Travel arrangements must be made through Administrator’s agent on a carrier of Administrator’s choice. No prize substitutions, cash equivalent, or transfer of prizes permitted except at the sole discretion of the Contest Entities. Prize subject to availability and the Contest Entities reserve the right, at their sole discretion, to award a prize of greater or equal value if the advertised prize is unavailable. If winner cannot travel on dates specified by Contest Entities, winner may be disqualified and an alternate winner selected. All other costs not specifically stated herein, including, but not limited to, taxes, meals, tips and ground transportation, are the responsibility of the winner. Taxes are solely the responsibility of the winner. Winner and travel companion must travel on the same itinerary and are responsible for obtaining all required travel documents. In addition, travel companion of Winner must be 21 years of age or older. Winner may be required to present a valid credit card upon hotel check in to cover any incidental expenses incurred during their stay. Winner and travel companion are responsible for obtaining travel insurance (and all other forms of insurance) where applicable, at their option, and hereby acknowledge that the Contest Entities have not and will not obtain or provide travel insurance or any other form of insurance. Winner and travel companion must sign a Publicity, Liability Waiver and Travel Release form prior to traveling. If a selected event is unable to take place as scheduled, for reasons such as cancellation, preemption, postponement or unavailability, or for any reason beyond the control of the Contest Entities, the Contest Entities’ sole responsibility to a Winner will be to award the remaining available portion of the prize and no substitution will be provided for unawarded portion of prize. Tickets are subject to terms and conditions as specified by issuer. Seat locations to be determined by Contest Entities. Contest Entities reserve the right to remove or to deny entry to winner and/or guest if he/she engages in a disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person at the reception. b. In the event that a prize or prize certificate is mailed to the winner, it will be with the prior written consent of the winner and therefore, winner assumes the risk of its loss. Southwest Airlines is not responsible for the safe arrival of a prize or prize certificate. 4. Selection of Winners Decisions of Contest Entities management with respect to the Contest are final. a. Who you think should win tonight’s Hell’s Kitchen finale and why. Southwest Airlines panel of judges from the Communications department will select the best reasons. b. The odds of winning are dependant on the total number of entries received. c. Winner need not listen or be present to win d. Winners must execute and return any required affidavit of eligibility and/or liability/publicity release within one (1) day of notification attempt or prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner may be chosen at random. If a potential winner cannot be contacted, fails to sign and return the required affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity release within the required time period, or if a prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, potential winner forfeits prize. 5. Conditions a. Payments of all federal, state and local taxes are solely the responsibility of the winners. Winners may be required to sign an IRS Form W-9 or the equivalent. b. By participating in the contest, the winner or winners agree to have their name, voice, or likeness used in any advertising or broadcasting material relating to this contest without additional financial or other compensation, and, where legal, to sign a publicity release confirming such consent prior to acceptance of the prize. c. Prior to awarding any prize or prize certificate, Southwest Airlines in its sole discretion may require contest winners (and their travel companions, if any) to sign a liability release, agreeing to hold Southwest Airlines, its corporate licensee, and each of their parent, subsidiary and affiliated corporations, and the officers, shareholders, directors, employees, agents and representatives of each of them harmless against any and all claims or liability arising directly or indirectly from the prize or participation in the Contest. d. Southwest Airlines, in is sole discretion, reserves the right to disqualify any person tampering with the entry process, the operation of Southwest Airlines website or is otherwise in violation of the rules. It further reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify the contest if it is not capable of completion as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention or technical failures of any sort. e. The Contest Entities reserve the right to make changes in the rules of the Contest, including the substitution of a prize or equivalent value, which will become effective upon announcement. If due to circumstances beyond the control of Southwest Airlines, any competition or prize-related event is delayed, rescheduled, postponed or cancelled, Southwest Airlines reserves the right, but not the obligation, to cancel or modify the contest and shall not be required to award a substitute prize. f. Failure to comply with the Contest rules may result in a contestant’s disqualification solely at the discretion of the Contest Entities. g. The Contest Entities are not responsible for typographical or other errors in the printing, the offering or the administration of the Contest, or in the announcement of a prize. h. Copies of the written Contest rules and a list of winners (when complete) are available during regular business hours at Southwest Airlines Emerging Media 2502 Love Field Dr. Dallas, TX 75235
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You're certainly not alone in your feelings. I look forward to talking about your program for adopted Korean Americans. You are a role model as well, thank you for your passion for helping others! ~Kim
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Thanks for posting your message. I was thoroughly impressed by the student presentations and was moved by their candid responses about identity. I'm already looking foward to meeting next year's students! I can relate - everytime I visit Vietnam, I learn so much about myself and our motherland. I can't wait to go back to visit my extended family, but we have to wait a few more years until my little one can tolerate a 15 hour flight! Have a terrific weekend and hope to see you soon! Kim
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I'm chuckling right now! Who doesn't like chicken fried steak?! I'm sure our moms our enjoying the endless buffet of pho and chicken fried steak right now! Thank you for sharing all of your laugh-out-loud and heartbreaking stories through the blog too. Hope to see you soon, maybe we can have a heavenly lunch at HDQ; I'll bring the pho! ;) Kim
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Thanks Katie for taking the time to watch the video and for your post! I hope my video encourages others to share their stories, so we can all heal together. Luv, Kim
Linda, I appreciated our conversation yesterday and thank you for sharing a piece of your heart with me as well. You are an inspiration to me, and I appreciate all that you do for ALL of our veterans. Hugs, Kim
Hi Anh Tuan~
You make me laugh! My hubby and I have taken Vietnamese lessons, but outside of menu items and the numbers 1-10, we know as much as my one-year-old. I'm hoping that once he's a little older, he can teach us! Thanks for your note.
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Your message brought tears to my eyes! My story is among thousands of immigrant stories; I was blessed that Digital Clubhouse Network wanted to share mine with you. One day soon, I hope to write another blog about my preparation and visit with Mr. Smith and family. THANK YOU so very much for sharing your heartfelt words!
I have seen "Daughter From Danang." I know the journalist who helped Heidi reunite with her family. Even though I had a different "homecoming," it was an incredibly moving documentary that hit home for me as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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