Recognizing Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Written by Kerry Riley on Wednesday 26th May 2021

May marks Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, acknowledging the accomplishments and contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities to the United States and the rest of the world.

Two particularly significant events for the AAPI community are marked in May in the United States. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant — a 14-year-old boy named Manjiro — arrived in America, and on May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad, which roughly 20,000 Chinese immigrants worked on, was completed.

Fast-forward 100 hundred years, and in 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed the first presidential proclamation for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. In 1992, Congress passed an amendment that called on the people of the US to observe Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month with “appropriate ceremonies, programs and activities.”

The pandemic has, unfortunately, seen an increase in violence against the Asian-American community. On May 20, 2021 an Anti-Asian-American Hate Crimes bill was passed in Congress. This was the first legislative action taken by Congress to bolster responses to the increase in attacks on Asian Americans during the pandemic.

Here at OPEN Health, we are proud to boast a diverse community and asked some of our Asian American and Pacific Islander colleagues to share what AAPI month means to them and to find out a bit more about our China and India office locations.

We asked Joyce Qian, Senior Scientist in Bethesda, Maryland:

What does being Asian mean to you?

"It means I am from a special culture and heritage that I am proud of. I carry the responsibility to pass on and disseminate my knowledge of my culture so people around me will understand Asians better. Being an Asian American, I sometimes feel cultural conflicts — for example, is it better to sacrifice one’s own interests for the common good or to pursue one’s self-interest? It is great to inherit what’s best from one’s heritage and discard those cultural values that do not work so well. But it would be great to know where they are from and why." 

What Asian figure do you think more people should know about?

"Asians are diversified. Not one stereotype can fit Asian Americans. I hope people know more about Asian athletes, such as Jeremy Lin, Nathan Chen, and Michael Chang; movie stars, such as Randall Park and Constance Wu; Asian politicians, such as Andrew Young; and Asian businesspeople, such as Eric Yuan."

What is your favorite cultural tradition?

"Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival. The meaning of this festival is reunion. Family is highly valued in Asian culture."

We asked Dipen Patel, SMA Global Lead in Bethesda, Maryland:

What does being Asian mean to you?

"Being Asian — specifically Indian — means forging tight social connections and valuing relationships, both personal and professional."

What is your favorite cultural tradition?

"Celebrating festivals with families. We have so many festivals, and most of them involve unique celebrations with families and friends"

What do you hope to see for the Asian community in coming years?

"Continued prosperity and economic/social growth in India and abroad. Also, more progress in maintaining the secular pillar of the community."

What is your proudest career accomplishment to date?

"Joining Pharmerit, now OPEN Health, after completing graduate school. This was most likely my wisest decision and greatest accomplishment because it set me on a path of tremendous professional growth and immense work satisfaction."

We asked Bassaam Mulk, Medical Associate in New York:

What does being Asian mean to you?

"For me being Asian means coming from a culture that is full of traditions and being a part of a tightly tight community."

What is your favorite cultural tradition?

"We have a lot of traditions, but my favorite is always celebrating the Eid festival with my family."

What is your proudest career accomplishment to date?

"I am a recent college graduate, but I am very proud to be a part of the OPEN health team and to work with my colleagues to provide the best client services possible."

What is one activity or dish from the Asian side of your culture that you think everybody should try?

"Nihari is a south Asian braised beef dish that not many people know about and I think that it is amazing."

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Facts about our Mumbai team

The India office started in 2019 and has grown quickly to include eight researchers. The expertise of our India staff is mainly in Modeling & Meta-Analysis and Strategic Market Access. We closely collaborate with our US and EU colleagues on a host of projects covering multiple therapeutic areas. Since most of us started at OPEN Health during the pandemic, we have never been together in an office yet and we eagerly look forward to that day.

FUN FACT: We collectively speak a total of six different languages!

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Facts about our Shanghai team

The China office was first established in Shanghai in 2013, followed by a formal legal entity in 2017. We currently have six employees with expertise across each COE, although mainly in Modeling & Meta-AnalysisStrategic Market Access and Real-World Evidence. The China office works on both domestic and global projects, collaborating closely with the US, EU, and India offices. The China office team enjoys gathering for happy hour to celebrate big holidays together and to explore nearby cafes, bars, and attractions after work. The China office donated to a charity organization that provides palliative care for children with end-of-life diseases last year. We plan to do more volunteer work together this year.

FUN FACT: We are a group of night owls who do nocturnal work due to the exact 12-hour time difference between the China and US offices!