This month and beyond, we join in celebrating and paying tribute to the generations of Asian American and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history. In May’s Be a Pillar story, DPR employees reflect on their ethnic and cultural backgrounds and experiences, sharing ways that friends, family and community have shaped them, both in their careers and in their daily lives.
Natasha Ashar, Project Manager
In thinking about my ethnic and cultural background as well as experiences, one of the main draws from my family, friends and community that has shaped me into the person I am today is the notion of hospitality. It is a living, breathing entity that allows us to make people feel at home, understand and accept different perspectives, and extend goodwill to all who are willing to receive it.
Hospitality permeates through my approach at work by asking questions and approaching it from multiple angles. We all have a different lens we each live and see from; it is the allowance of everyone to co-exist. It influences my work since I tend to approach topics with a customer service mindset. Hospitality continues to influence my work as I am passionate about helping, whether it be related to people or projects.
Rena Goudey, Safety Manager
I was raised by two parents with strong ties to the Filipino community until I was a freshman in high school. Even though they divorced and remarried, I always felt a sense of belonging whenever we had family parties on both my mom’s and dad’s side of their families.
Family is considered the foundation of social life for most Filipinos. While my immediate family was the core family unit, I also had a strong bond with my extended family members. In fact, it even extended to distant relatives and non-relatives, and I would often call the parents of my Filipino friends, “auntie” or “uncle.”
The sense of belonging and being a part of a team or “family” is what shapes me. DPR has definitely provided me many opportunities to experience this. When it comes to work and those that I engage with I feel secure and supported because those people provide a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity. I am able to bring my authentic self to work and perform at my very best knowing that I matter and am valued as a team member.
Vedo Evantanto, Senior Project Engineer
Growing up as a first-generation immigrant from Indonesia, the cultural and familial values of respect for elders, obedience, and following the rules were monumental in my developing years. My parents risked a lot when it came to giving up what they had and knew, from their homes, jobs, family, language, etc. to provide for a more promising future for me and my siblings. From this risk, came the lofty and well-thought-out expectations that were established for me and my siblings: to do well in school, attend college (and study in a field that they would consider lucrative and stable), and ultimately, have a high-paying job that would not force us to ever have to make the risks they did. Deviance or challenge to these steps would not have been easily accepted, let alone celebrated.
These principles and clear expectations undoubtedly have been the main driving factor when it comes to how I approach my work: I naturally am a rule-follower, not a challenger; a thinker before being a doer; and more of an observer than a commander. Although there is much value to these things, I am constantly working to step out of my comfort zone by speaking up and sharing my thoughts and opinions in a bold and courageous way. There is a lot to “un-learn” and “re-learn” here in terms of my natural approach on things, but through self-compassion and assurance, I am constantly improving as a husband, father, and DPR employee.
DPR’s monthly Global Social Responsibility (GSR): Be a Pillar series spotlights diverse experiences and perspectives within the DPR family. AAPI Heritage Month is celebrated in the U.S. in May each year to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the construction workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants, approximately 14,000 laborers.