Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2023
Celebrating cultural awareness and diversity through the eyes of our associates
As a Danaher Corporation operating company, IDT strives to create and sustain an inclusive environment, one where a truly diverse workforce is able to come together, work together, and build a professional culture rooted in inclusivity.
One component of this critical initiative is taking the time to pause, reflect, and learn about cultures, races, and orientations other than our own. In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, we’re continuing this journey on an exploration of Asia through the perspectives of our talented associates. Join us as we embrace the following associates who’ve humbly agreed to share aspects of their personal journeys with all of us:
Natalie Zin, Marketing Operations Specialist
Francesca Luu, Territory Sales Manager
Li Xiang, NGS Field Application Scientist
Q: To help us “explore Asia,” what would you like to share about your hometown, geographic location, or important traditions or cultural celebrations?
Natalie Zin: Growing up in Beijing, I loved when autumn would come around because that meant the Moon Festival, which represents the reunion of families, was around the corner. The legend of the Moon Festival is a celebration of harvest. Families spend time together eating moon cakes, lighting paper lanterns, and giving thanks to the moon for the harvest. It is said that the moon is the largest and brightest at this time. The moon cakes have fillings like mung bean, red bean, sesame, and—my favorite—lotus paste with yolk.
Francesca Luu: Chinese red envelopes for all occasions—giving a red envelope filled with lucky money is a common way for the Chinese to show appreciating during important celebrations like New Year, birthdays, and weddings. A Chinese red envelope (known as lai see in Cantonese and hong bao in Mandarin) is an ornate red pocket of paper the size of an index card. They’re commonly decorated with beautiful Chinese calligraphy and symbols conveying good luck and prosperity to the recipient. Through they’re generally a symbol associated with Lunar New Year, birthdays, and weddings, red envelopes are also given for graduations, the launches of new ventures, and other special occasions.
Li Xiang: I spent my childhood in a small town located in Northeast China before moving to Beijing for college and graduate school. In our hometown, we observe all major holidays by gathering together with our family members. Typically, these gatherings involve large groups of relatives enjoying delicious food and expressing gratitude toward the eldest members of our family.
Q: Can you share any specific personal points of Asian pride?
Natalie Zin: When I think of what it means to be Asian and have pride in my heritage, I always think about how rich and deep Chinese culture is. Our food, our history, and the focus on family and community also makes me feel honored to be a part of that community. I am also happy to share those experiences and values with my friends and colleagues regardless of ethnicity.
Francesca Luu: I am most proud of my parents’ journey from ChaoZhou, China to Saigon, Vietnam (where I was born) to America. They have sacrificed so much to give me a better life.
Li Xiang: The values I hold most dear include a strong dedication to education and work, a commitment to putting family first, and always showing respect toward others.
Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Natalie Zin: Growing up in an Asian household, my parents always wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, so I exceeded expectations and became a Marketing Operations Specialist. All joking aside, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to be, I just knew I wanted to love what I do and I’m happy to say I have achieved that goal.
Francesca Luu: Hair stylist
Li Xiang: As a child, I dreamed of becoming a scientist who could create therapies to cure diseases and slow down the aging process. While my current career path has deviated somewhat from that initial goal, I remain committed to supporting the work of scientists around the world in achieving this objective. Through my work on the NGS side, I hope to contribute to this collective effort and help bring us closer to a world where these advancements are a reality.
Q: Do you feel you’ve had to overcome obstacles, personally or professionally, related to your heritage?
Natalie Zin: Relating to my heritage specifically, I do not feel I had unique obstacles, however moving from China to the United States when I was 17 presented quite a few challenges. It was tough to adjust to a new culture that was so different from the one I had lived in. There was also a language barrier for an extended period of time once I was in the United States, so I believe making friends in high school was more challenging. Professionally, I feel blessed to say no obstacles have come to mind. It is part of why I feel grateful to work for a company like Danaher.
Francesca Luu: Yes. The hardest challenge was unlearning my conditioning. I was raised to not challenge authority, be humble, and work hard without expectations. It wasn’t easy shedding these beliefs.
Li Xiang: As a first-generation immigrant, I arrived in a new country in my mid-twenties with nothing but the American dream. Although I faced many challenges, I knew that I needed to remain resilient and adapt to my new surroundings. Thanks to the values instilled in me by my family—particularly the importance of hard work and perseverance—I was able to succeed and make a life for myself in this new country.
How did you initially become involved in the STEM/genomics field(s)?
Francesca Luu: I was fascinated the first time I looked into a microscope to see the skin of an onion, and that got me hooked on biology.
Li Xiang: Ever since childhood, I have been passionate about scientific advancements in the life sciences field, and my dream was to become a scientist. With this passion, I pursued an undergraduate degree in biology, followed by a PhD in life sciences, and post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School. Although I initially pursued an academic career, I later became fascinated with the genomics field and made the transition to industry.
Q: Who would you say has had the most significance on your life?
Natalie Zin: I would say my mother—she has always been a guiding presence and always has great advice!
Francesca Luu: My mom. What I admire most about my mom is that she’s always cheerful, she gives good advice, and she’s a great teacher. She has taught me that hard times can be overcome and that losing battles can be won. She sets an inspirational example for me, teaching me how to live life and make wise choices, even in the most uncertain situations.
Li Xiang: My family.
Q: Why do you feel the Danaher/IDT commitment to celebrating diverse cultures is important to our collective understanding and success?
Natalie Zin: Our cultures shape our values, which in turn shape who we are. In order to be successful as a company, we need to be true to ourselves. Danaher/IDT’s commitment to celebrating diverse cultures reminds us that we all have different backgrounds but that each of us are important. It also gives us a chance to learn more about each other, which in these times feels more important than ever.
Francesca Luu: Recognition and representation means accepting and encouraging every single individual to embrace what makes them special. If we continue to create safe spaces for people to share their ideas, values, and experiences, we’re creating our culture of belonging.
Li Xiang: As a global company, Danaher has associates and customers located across the world. I am delighted to see that Danaher values and embraces diversity and different cultures. This not only creates a welcoming work environment but also presents an inclusive image to our customers worldwide.
Q: As the field of genomics propels forward, what are you most excited about being involved with?
Li Xiang: The emergence of new sequencing technologies is truly exciting, as it has the potential to fill many gaps in the field and make NGS more accessible and reliable for various applications in research, diagnostics, and even daily life. Additionally, the field of CRISPR gene therapy is another area of great excitement, as it offers new avenues to treat many severe diseases that can't be treated by traditional methods.
Q: How do you represent your Asian heritage in your daily life? Professional life?
Natalie Zin: Whenever I have the chance, I love to converse in Mandarin with friends and colleagues.
Francesca Luu: In my daily life, I make sure to celebrate the traditional Chinese festivals such as New Year, Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Dongzhi Festival.
Li Xiang: Work hard, be respectful and grateful to everyone.
Q: What is the one most important takeaway about your heritage you’d like to leave with our audience?
Natalie Zin: Similar to most cultures, there is so much to learn about Chinese culture. I truly believe one of the best things you can do is to let others who are not of your heritage, share in your heritage’s tradition, history, and community. Teaching and learning about other cultures are rewarding experiences on both sides.
Francesca Luu: Fortune cookies are not a thing in China, but food is! Most of all, the sentiment behind food, which involves sharing with your loved ones.
Li Xiang: I firmly believe that, regardless of our origins or backgrounds, we all share common values that motivate and encourage us, and that ultimately unite us. When people work together in harmony toward a common goal, society can move towards a more promising and fulfilling future.