Celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month: The Power of Mentorship


As we step into May, we also embrace the celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

This month-long observance has its roots in a congressional bill introduced by Representatives Frank Horton and Norman Y. Mineta in June 1977. They proposed a week-long commemoration to honor the contributions and achievements of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the United States. In 1992, Congress passed a resolution designating May as AAPI Heritage Month, expanding the celebration to a full month. Since then, AAPI Heritage Month has served as a time to recognize and celebrate the diverse cultures, histories, and accomplishments of AAPI individuals and communities.

In the spirit of this month, let’s take a moment to shine a light on the profound impact mentorship can have, particularly through the lens of three remarkable AAPI individuals whose lives were transformed by the guidance and support of mentors.

Yo-Yo Ma: Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma is not only a master of his craft but also a cultural ambassador whose music transcends borders. Behind his illustrious career lies the guidance of his mentor, Leonard Rose, a distinguished cellist and teacher. Rose recognized Ma’s extraordinary talent from a young age and provided him with the mentorship and encouragement needed to hone his skills and navigate the complexities of the music industry. Through Rose’s guidance, Ma not only developed into a virtuoso cellist but also embraced his role as a global advocate for the arts, using music as a tool for cultural diplomacy and social change.

Mindy Kaling: As an actress, writer, producer, and director, Mindy Kaling has left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Known for her roles in “The Office” and “The Mindy Project,” Kaling has used her platform to advocate for greater representation of Asian Americans in media. Throughout her career, Kaling has credited her mentorship relationship with Greg Daniels, the creator of “The Office,” for shaping her approach to storytelling and navigating the complexities of Hollywood. As an Asian American woman in a predominantly white and male-dominated industry, Kaling’s journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring creatives and underscores the importance of mentorship in breaking down barriers and paving the way for underrepresented voices.

Daniel Dae Kim: Actor and producer Daniel Dae Kim has made significant strides in Hollywood, breaking stereotypes and advocating for greater representation of AAPI voices in the entertainment industry. Behind his success lies the mentorship of fellow actor Mako Iwamatsu, who served as a guiding light and role model for Kim. Iwamatsu not only imparted invaluable wisdom and advice but also instilled in Kim a sense of pride in his heritage and the importance of using his platform to effect positive change. Today, Kim continues to honor Iwamatsu’s legacy by advocating for diversity and inclusion both on and off-screen.

These individuals exemplify the profound impact that mentorship can have on shaping lives and driving positive change. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, we are committed to fostering meaningful mentorship relationships that empower young people to reach their full potential, regardless of background or circumstance. As we celebrate AAPI Month, let us continue to champion the power of mentorship in creating a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

Thank you for joining us in recognizing and celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!




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