Our people are the core of everything we do at Zscaler. Each individual brings passion, heart, and brilliance to work every day. Without diverse backgrounds, experiences, and input, our company would not be what it is today. As such, our employee resource groups (ERGs), including the Asian American and Pacific Islander @ Zscaler (AAPI@Z) ERG, enrich our cultural experience at Zscaler and build community, encourage mentorship, and elevate the powerful voices of everyone that makes Zscaler a great place to work.
To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2022, we spoke with some of the founders and members of AAPI@Z to get their thoughts and reflections on the importance of representation and what the month—and their heritage—mean to them.
“Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month makes me think about how AAPI is seen as only one group of people, a super-label that encompasses more than 50 wholly different ethnic groups, each with centuries of their own rich and complex history,” said Oanh McClure, Director of Alliances and Channel at Zscaler. “In reality, the moniker ‘AAPI’ represents what may be THE vastest collection of uniquely and contrastingly different cultures in the world, and yet, people may only see one singular image/face when they hear ‘AAPI.’”
Valerie Ng, Talent Acquisition Enablement Program Manager at Zscaler said that the month presents an opportunity.
“AAPI Heritage Month is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate our historical and cultural upbringing and a chance to amplify Asian voices,” she said. “It's also a special time where we get to learn about the diversity within the AAPI community itself, we are made up of people who are so similar yet so different!”
Shudong Zhou, Principal Engineer, Machine Learning at Zscaler, said AAPI Heritage Month reminds him of the past, but also sheds light on the future.
“AAPI Heritage Month is a good time to reflect on my Chinese heritage and life experience in the U.S.,” he said. “Coming to the country and attending UT Austin in the mid-80's, I remember going to a supermarket and feeling like an animal in a zoo. While people were just being curious, I still felt uncomfortable. We have come a long way since then.”
Ng said she celebrates her heritage year-round.
“Growing up, my family was always big on Chinese holidays such as Lunar New Year, Ching Ming Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival,” she said. “As a child, I never really asked why we did certain things to celebrate, like wearing red apparel on Lunar New Year or eating mooncakes during the Mid Autumn Festival, I just did as I was told. As an adult now, I've become more interested in the meaning behind the rituals and offerings of these holidays and realized I have a lot to learn! I often talk to my siblings and peers about how I wished I was more in tune with my heritage growing up, because it is really up to our generation to keep these wonderful traditions going.”
McClure echoed these sentiments, and believes that though having a month to highlight representation is important, celebrating culture happens every day.
“In my family, we don't ‘celebrate’ AAPI month or our culture - we simply live it,” she said. “For example, you can hear it in how we speak - Vietnamese is an ‘honorific language’ meaning you address each person with their title as it relates to you—an act of respect toward your elders and each person you interact with. You can taste our culture in every meal, feasts of abundance and comfort—adaptations of traditional meals, reminiscent of both my childhood (as the lone Asian kid in the neighborhood) and my parents' childhood (in a far-away land that has changed so much after the war that it hardly exists as they remember it). Our heritage is in everything we do whether we consciously ‘celebrate it’ or not.”
David Vu, Technical Account Manager at Zscaler, said the month provides an important reminder, while the APPI ERG provides a welcome community.
“I celebrate my heritage throughout the year by upholding the values and traditions my family have taught me, and never forgetting what was sacrificed and endured to allow me to be where I am today,” he said. “The AAPI resource group is important because it supports and promotes Asian Pacific culture and diversity. It spreads cultural awareness through social, cultural, and educational events as well as giving back to the community.”
Bosco Gong, Sales Engineer, Large Enterprises at Zscaler said the month also helps him to reflect on his past and his parents.
“I would say I celebrate my heritage throughout the year,” he said. “But, I do participate more during the month, and since it is the month of Mother’s Day followed by Father’s Day in June, I appreciate the sacrifice of my parents even more. Hopefully, my own children will feel the same way later in life.”