AAPI Heritage Month Spotlights
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and we are sharing some of our employees' stories to recognize the incredible diversity that exists in this community.
Alana Perdue is a senior tax manager at MGO and works out of the firm’s San Jose office. She immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when she was in high school, watching her parents sacrifice everything so she and her brother would have more educational and professional opportunities.
This passion, perseverance, and grit inspired her early on. “We arrived and settled in Houston in early 2001,” Alana said. “I watched as my parents worked blue collar jobs to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table while I graduated high school and then college. Through their hard work, I learned that you build the life you want and show that resilience in everything you do.”
The timing of their arrival in the States is not lost to her family either. Because they immigrated mere months before 9/11, Alana and her family make it a priority to remember how fortunate they are to call the US home.
“To have been able to be here and see how this country came together during such a tragedy, we realized how blessed we are to call it a home away from home,” she said. Even though they received their citizenship in 2006, they continue to feel that gratitude each day.
Within her “home away from home,” Alana knows where her roots lie: in her Vietnamese heritage and culture, which she credits as being the “anchors in this perfect storm we call life.”
“They keep me grounded and give me peace. We’ve all experienced the adage, ‘When it rains, it pours,’ and sometimes, that can seem overwhelming,” Alana said. “But I tug on my anchor, gather that inner peace and keep on keepin’ on!”
As for AAPI Heritage Month, she’s reminded this month, more than ever, of who we are, where we come from, and how we made it to where we are today. She believes heritage is an integral part of anyone’s being, and to recognize those heritages within the AAPI community is crucial to spreading awareness and bringing everyone together.
Mandy Li is a tax managing director and the head of transfer pricing at MGO and works out of the firm’s San Jose office. As the co-chair of the firm’s AAPI Committee, Mandy celebrates, implements, and shares her Chinese heritage every day.
Growing up in China, Mandy learned several valuable lessons, including the importance of working hard, respecting elders, and prioritizing responsibility and honesty in everything she does.
“Even as a little kid, my parents made sure I learned those things!” Mandy said. “Chinese cultural values laid the foundation for who I am today.”
Despite the distance, Mandy maintains a close relationship with her family, calling her parents nearly every day, no matter where she is or what she’s doing.
“We’ve always been big celebrators,” Mandy said. “Celebrating together, whether it’s a holiday or gathering, strengthens our bond—and the delicious Chinese food we serve at each event doesn’t hurt!” For important festivals like Spring Festival, Mandy says that everyone tries to fly from wherever they are in the world to celebrate in one place together.
Mandy believes AAPI Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to promote social justice, appreciating the histories and heritages that make each group unique while bringing the communities together to celebrate and raise awareness.
“One of our biggest goals is to attract more AAPI employees to MGO,” Mandy said. “If we can do that, it means the firm will be even more diverse — and because of that — that much stronger.”
Yuki Takahashi is a finance director at MGO and works out of the firm’s Bay Area office. Although she has now lived in the United States for twice as long as she lived in Japan, she still credits her childhood there to be extremely formative to who she is today.
“I didn’t take a lot with me when I left Japan, but I carried the values I grew up with, especially perseverance and hard work,” she said. “Those were instilled in me, and I credit any success I have now to what I learned growing up.”
Something else Yuki cherishes from Japan: the food. Her favorite thing to share with others about her heritage is the cuisine, including lesser-known Japanese dishes like grilled fish, braised vegetables, and fermented beans.
“There is so much more to Japanese food than sushi!” Yuki said. “I love introducing my friends here to dishes they’ve never heard of — or, if they saw it on a menu, were too skeptical to give it a try. Food provides a vehicle to bring people together, and I find that to be especially true when it comes to tasting things from other cultures. It’s a shared experience.”
Yuki also has a soft spot for a certain Japanese culture: announcing “itte-kimasu” when you leave home and “tadaima” when you return, which translate to “I will go and come back” and “I have returned.” Despite moving from her childhood home in Japan years ago, when Yuki visits her parents, she upholds this practice.
“Your home is where you’re safe, and even when you leave it, you make that promise to come back to those you love,” she said.
When it comes to celebrating AAPI Heritage Month, Yuki is happy to see the community rallying together, because despite their different languages and cultures, they are all connected with a common thread. This, she believes, is more important than ever in the face of the recent surge of hate crimes against the members of the community.
“We’ve always kind of laid low,” she said. “But we’ve also always endured discrimination. Now it’s crucial that we stake our claim in this country with pride, remaining visible and proud. Humanity exists in all cultures, and it binds us together. We must fight for that.”