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Old National’s Swati Chakraborty on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Observed during May, “Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month” recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

President Jimmy Carter (1978) first signed a joint resolution recognizing a week’s celebration, while George H.W. Bush (1990) signed a bill extending the recognition to a month. President Barack Obama (2009) and President Joe Biden (2021) signed additional proclamations, with the latter adding the recognition for native Hawaiians.

This interview series with Old National Bank employees celebrates those whose families, like virtually all Americans, at one time immigrated and have helped shape the rich diversity found in the United States.

Relationship Banker, Eden Prairie branch, Minnesota

Approaching three years with Old National, Swati is a first-generation immigrant from India, “keenly exploring and embracing a new culture while proudly showcasing my own within our diverse community.”

She appreciates Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as a time when diverse histories, cultures, and contributions of the AANHPI community are acknowledged and valued across the United States.

“I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who has shown interest in learning more about AANHPI cultures,” Swati says. “Your openness and curiosity make a significant difference in fostering a more inclusive and understanding community.”

Q.   How do you celebrate AAPI Month?

I celebrate by deeply immersing my family in our culture and sharing our traditions with my children. These traditions encompass everything from our culinary heritage to cultural practices and historical knowledge.

Q.   Why is it important that organizations recognize heritage months?

It’s imperative for organizations to recognize heritage months because it helps ensure that all employees feel seen and valued for who they are. Celebrating these months fosters an inclusive workplace environment where everyone’s cultural backgrounds and contributions are acknowledged and respected. This embraces employee morale and enriches our appreciation of each other’s heritage.

Q.   What does inclusion mean to you?

Inclusion to me means being treated equally, where my culture and background are embraced rather than seen as hindrances to my ability to succeed. It’s about creating an environment where diversity is not just accepted but valued.

Q.   Who is someone who identifies as AANHPI that you admire and why?

One person I deeply admire is my mother. Although she is no longer living, the enduring impact of her strength and resilience continues to inspire me. She worked incredibly hard to raise us, instilling values of perseverance and courage. She motivates me every day.

Q.   What do you wish people understood about AANHPI Heritage Month?

I wish people understood that it is not only about celebrating the rich heritage and history of influential individuals within these communities. It’s also a time to broaden our understanding of diverse cultures. This month offers a valuable opportunity for everyone to learn about, appreciate, and show respect for the varied experiences and contributions of our fellow AANHPI community members.

To learn more about Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and the 2024 theme, Advancing Leaders Through Innovation, click here.

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