AAPI Heritage at Carbon Health

Carbon Health Editorial Team
May 24, 2021
7 mins

At Carbon Health, we believe that different insights and backgrounds are a strength, and are a key part of what allows us to provide world-class care to every community we work with. Celebrating the diverse viewpoints and cultures of our team members is central to who we are as a company. So with May being AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Heritage Month, we asked some of our team members to share some of the most important parts of their AAPI heritage. 

Here’s what they’re saying:

+ What do you take most pride in about your ancestral heritage?

Joanna Josue, FNP, Clinician Manager of LA East District
I’m Filipina American. While the history of the Philippines is complex and full of colonization and, at times, severe oppression by the Spanish (for nearly 400 years) and then the United States, it also has led to some unique qualities about our people. Our words, foods, and attitudes are a blend of all these influences. Enthusiastic hospitality, family pride, love of God, and love of community are staples of our culture, and have driven so many into the healthcare field. We embrace so many people as family. In fact, I have two fellow Carbonauts who are not blood cousins but who are people I grew up with as “church cousins,” who are now working with COVID Ready, here in Los Angeles.

Therese Gondek, RN

I take most pride in my father, who is a Japanese American from Kauai. He witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack and signed up for the 100th Battalion to fight in Europe. The 100th battalion morphed into the famous 442nd. Best of all?! I just learned about him through Ancestry.com.

Meghna Parikh, Regulatory and Transactional Counsel, California

My country of origin is India, a relatively young democracy that, in essence, has a culture that is more than a few thousand years old. My ancestors moved to the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) for a better life from the squalor and heat of the deserts of Gujarat. My family and I followed in their footsteps when we packed up and moved to the United States many moons ago. We have an entrepreneurial spirit, the ability to unify to overcome adversity, and a legacy of strong women, which I'm extremely proud of and grateful for.

An Le, Chief Business Officer

Growing up as an immigrant Asian kid in America defines so much of how I view the world today, anywhere from my value system to my love of food. Hard work, perseverance, and adaptability are all ingrained in my ancestral heritage and are what have allowed me to grow into my career to date.

+ Do you have a favorite heirloom, cultural object, event, or tradition that you celebrate as it relates to your ancestral heritage? 

Elizabeth Thaw, Clinician/Medical Assistant

Our water festivals are what I looked forward to every year as a kid when I was growing up! And the food is always made from scratch!

Jill Weinacker (American) / Kim Ja Yung (Korean), DPM 

I have a beautiful dress (a hanbok) that a sweet friend brought back from Seoul when I was around five years old. I still have it in my closet, and I feel like I have a little piece of Seoul! Most importantly, it makes me feel special that she thought of me while she was there!

Meghna Parikh, Regulatory and Transactional Counsel, California

I love celebrating Indian festivals (there are so many). I have an Indian festival calendar on my phone, and there is literally one a week, if not more! The tradition I love to maintain is to do a fast on certain special, auspicious days. These are a great way to stay in touch with my culture and also reset my body by avoiding salt, sugar, or dairy — whatever the fast calls for.

Sharina Manalili, Support Staff

In the Philippines we make a parol, which is a star lantern, during the Christmas season.

An Le, Chief Business Officer

My family has always had an ancestral altar in the home I grew up in. When I was very young, there were photos of my great-grandparents whom I had never met. Every holiday when we would celebrate, we would include them by offering food and tea, burning incense, and welcoming these ancestors to watch over and care for our family. As I got older, relatives I knew in real life, including my brother and grandparents, passed away and were included on the family altar. When I run into difficult times in my life now, these are the people I think of and pray to, asking them to continue to look after me and my own children. To me, there is something so beautiful about making the spiritual and religious part of our lives about our own loved ones.

Reshna Maniklal, Physician Assistant

Navaratri is one of the most unique and enjoyable festivals of the year; it includes nine nights of food, colorful outfits, intergenerational dances, and live music, all in honor of Hindu goddesses. For decades, my family and I have been celebrating yearly by doing Garba and Dandiya, traditional folk dances, until the early morning. It’s a blast!

+ Do you have a favorite traditional recipe to share?

Sharina Manalili, Support Staff

I love to make my husband chicken adobo with potatoes cooked in coconut milk. To make it, you sear the chicken thigh with a lot of garlic bulbs and bay leaves. Once it’s partially cooked, you can add equal parts of soy sauce, vinegar, and water. I like to add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. Let it simmer for 20 minutes; then add the coconut milk and simmer for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken falls apart or is tender.

Meghna Parikh, Regulatory and Transactional Counsel, California

My favorite recipe is chana masala which is really easy to make!

Reshna Maniklal, Physician Assistant

Chicken biryani is a staple in our house. Here's a recipe for making it in an Instant Pot!

+ What would you like others to know about your heritage?

Selida (I go by my middle name, Jenifer), Central Support

I was born in Kosrae and lived in Guam the first year of my life. I wish I could remember it!

Jill Weinacker (American) / Kim Ja Yung (Korean), DPM 

Family is really valued, and so is work ethic. We all know that often we spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our own family throughout a week. Therefore, I try to invest time in creating positive relationships with my coworkers and really treasure the extra special relationships I’m able to form.

Joanna Josue, FNP, Clinician Manager of LA East District

I want to recognize the sacrifice of Filipino healthcare workers throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Too many of our elders succumbed to the virus and contracted it while working predominantly as nurses, but also as nursing assistants and housekeepers in hospitals and long-term care facilities. In September of 2020, National Nurses United released a report that showed the alarming rate of death in the Filipino community. Of the 213 registered nurses who have died of COVID-19 and related complications, 67 (31.5 percent) are Filipino. Filipinos make up 4 percent of registered nurses in the United States. More than half of registered nurses of color who have died to date have been Filipino (54 percent). 

Reshna Maniklal, PA

While the most watered-down versions of South Asian culture like yoga, meditation, and chicken tikka masala are appropriated globally, my ancestral heritage is being actively threatened and eradicated by the pandemic. There's a richness and complexity beyond “asanas” and “namaste” that I hope we, as Americans, can learn to appreciate and respect. Please help India in any way you can by donating to missionoxygen.org

Elizabeth Thaw, Clinician/Medical Assistant

The people of my country are very proud to be Burmese! Even with the political situation that is happening right now, we look out for each other! We love each other as neighbors and even family.

John Kim, Certified Radiologic Technologist

We give respect to parents who passed away on Korean Thanksgiving day by visiting the cemetery, usually located on a mountain, and have a picnic.

Thank you to all of our AAPI Carbonauts for taking the time to share some of their heritage with us. We are so grateful for your dedication to serving our communities and are honored that you are a part of the Carbon Health family. 

























Carbon Health Editorial Team

The Carbon Health Editorial Team is a group of writers, content creators, and thought leaders who are here to empower you to take charge of your health.

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