AAPI Heritage Month At Sender One - Sender One Climbing

Written by Eric Ho


The month of May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, wherein communities celebrate the history, culture, and achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans with community festivals, government-sponsored activities and educational activities.

Sender One employs many staff members of AAPI heritage, including CEO Alice, and also hosts two AAPI monthly meetups called Asian Ascenders (LAX | SNA), led by various community members from AC2 and FilipinUp. Let’s take a moment to get to know some of our staff and community leaders!

We asked a couple of Sender One staff, Melissa, Sophie, Brooke, Selina, to share a bit a bit about themselves:

How would you describe your cultural identity?

Brooke (SNA): "Chinese-American"

Melissa (Lakewood): "Mostly Filipino with a pinch of Spanish, usually identifying as Filipino American. Both of my parents moved to the states in the 70s and brought many of their traditions and cultural practices with them."

Selina (LAX): "Born and raised in Shenzhen, China. I love my culture, especially the arts and the food! I embrace and celebrate a lot of my Chinese traditions because it links me to my childhood and my lineage. My parents worked really hard to give my brother and I the opportunity to explore and be immersed in a multinational community, which allowed me to absorb new knowledge and grow as an individual."

Sophie (LAX): "Half-Polish and half-Filipina, though born in America."

Image: Melissa at Malibu Creek

What does this month mean to you? How have you been able to celebrate? 

Brooke: "AAPI Heritage Month means a lot to me as someone who is a proud Asian-American! Our community has faced a lot of adversity throughout history and more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this month is a time for us to come together to celebrate our rich heritage. I'm looking forward to celebrating AAPI Heritage Month with the Asian Ascenders community at Sender One."

Melissa: "AAPI Heritage Month is a time to celebrate how Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander Americans have contributed to the U.S.'s history. To me, it is also a time to reflect or learn about the experiences these folks had/have. I'm realizing now that I should take more time to celebrate!"

Selina: "The month is an opportunity to learn about and reflect on the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including the challenges and triumphs they have faced. It is also the time to appreciate our diverse society and the different traditions, values, foods, literature, and the arts and crafts that people from different backgrounds bring to the world. This month brings us together not only to celebrate one group of people but also to celebrate solidarity and unity."

Sophie: "AAPI Month means celebrating the diverse cultures and histories of Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. I’ve had the privilege of organizing some of the first FilipinUp SoCal meetups! While organizing these gatherings, I’ve connected with other Asian Americans, learning more about their stories and cultural backgrounds. I can’t wait to celebrate with the Asian Ascenders community at Sender One during our co-hosted meetup with Asian Climbing Collective!"


Image: Selina at Playa Vista

Who is your biggest influence and why?

Brooke: "My biggest influence is my dad. He is extremely athletic and runs half-marathons at the age of 59. He has always encouraged me to do sports, which is perhaps why I'm into climbing now. He is also kind, compassionate, and empathetic and teaches me by example how to be a good human being."

Melissa: "It's hard to choose one person as my biggest influence but if I had to choose someone who had a heavy hand in helping me discover my cultural identity and history, it would be Irene Duller. Irene was my professor and mentor throughout my undergrad where I studied at this country's first College of Ethnic Studies. As a major part of the Filipino American scene in the bay area, she taught me new perspectives and showed me how I could also dive into that community."

Selina: "My parents are my biggest influence. My dad taught me persistence, hard work, and humbleness. My mom taught me kindness, caring, and forgiveness."

Sophie: "My biggest influence is my mom. Even though she is not Asian, she still encourages me to stay close to my Filipino roots. She is the strongest (physically and mentally), funniest, and most caring person I know. She is my number one supporter in everything I do. I aspire to be like her someday!"

Image: Sophie at LAX

My identity + climbing:

Brooke: "I started climbing when I was living in South Dakota and never stopped when I moved back to California. Fast forward three years, and climbing is my life now. It's such a fun, technical sport and so rewarding to see yourself improve with time and practice. But perhaps my favorite part is the climbing community, where I have met a lot of my closest friends and continue to meet more awesome people from hosting Asian Ascenders meetups. Climb on!"

Selina: "Through climbing, I found many groups of friends who share the same passion and are always supportive. It has become an invisible string that connects me to individuals I might not have met outside of climbing."

Sophie: "My boss introduced me to climbing two years ago and I haven’t stopped since. I wasn’t always what some might consider "outdoorsy," but climbing opened my eyes to a newfound love and appreciation for nature. It has made me more confident in my day-to-day life and led me to meet many incredible people that I now call some of my closest friends. If it wasn’t for climbing and the community it fosters, launching the FilipinUp SoCal Chapter to bring Filipin@s together would not have been possible. Akyat tayo!"

Image: Brooke at SNA

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