CARROLLTON – FARMERS BRANCH ISD: Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! (Diana Ignacio)


Carrollton – Farmers Branch ISD issued the following announcement on May 25

What’s your job title, and how long have you worked in CFBISD?

I am a first-grade Math, Science, and Social Studies teacher at Las Colinas Elementary. This is my third year with CFBISD.

What inspired you to work in your field?

At a young age, I witnessed the reality of poverty overseas on a family trip. I saw the impact of not having an education and how many of us take it for granted. During that trip, I knew I wanted to help people. Initially, I graduated with a BBA and held various roles in accounting/finance, marketing, and merchandising; however, my aspiration to help others always remained. It’s what led me to make a complete career change into education. It has been the best and most rewarding decision I have ever made for myself.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

The most exciting part of my job is empowering my students to take ownership of their learning. Establishing a classroom norm where mistakes are welcomed and expected makes all the difference. It’s amazing to watch their growth mindsets transform from “I can’t…” to “I can…”

Do you have any words of advice for people looking to enter your field?

For those considering education, two pieces of advice I can offer are to have the mindset of a lifelong learner. Students need to see that learning does not end the minute they leave school. Learning happens beyond school and in our everyday lives. Secondly, be prepared to give yourself ample amounts of grace every single day. Coming from someone that has worked outside of education, teaching is one of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever had, but it is the most fulfilling. The rewards are not always instant, but there will be subtle moments when you realize you are exactly where you need to be.

How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

I am a first-generation Cambodian American and the first person to graduate from a university. I am the person I am today because refugees raised me. My parents arrived in America not knowing the language, with just the clothes on their backs. My entire life, I’ve watched them work tirelessly, sacrifice, and do everything within their means to allow my sister and me to live a full life. As an adolescent, I’ll admit I didn’t always understand them, but now as an adult, I am nothing but grateful and humbled for everything my parents have done. My perspective, values, work ethic, how I connect with others, and how I carry myself are shaped by their love.

Does your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?

A family tradition that is especially important to me centers around food! The beautiful thing about Cambodian food is that it is communal. The portion sizes are meant to be shared among big families and friends. In addition, Cambodian food is rich in flavor, aromas, spices, herbs, and fresh ingredients. It takes time for tastes and textures to be just right. Recipes are passed down from generation to generation with no formal documentation. It’s all memorized by heart. Cambodian cooking is an act of love.

What historical figure do you admire the most and why?

The individual that I admire most is my mom. She may not be a historical figure, but to me, she is my hero. My mom comes from a family of 12 children, living in a bustling city in Cambodia. In the late 1970s, a genocide took over the country. She lost both of her parents and many siblings to unfathomable horrific acts. With just two younger siblings under her care, she ran across the border of Thailand to find sanctuary at refugee camps. The three were later sponsored to America, where they settled and began building a life in Carrollton. Fun fact, they were enrolled at Newman Smith High School! I cannot imagine the trauma she endured or the courage and resilience it took for her to keep pushing on during those dark times. My mom is an incredible human being.

What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month mean to you?

AAPI Heritage month is a time to celebrate the contributions and influences of Asian American-Pacific Islanders. Still, more importantly, it is about bringing awareness to the cultural differences and similarities found in our community. The idea of “Asian” is often centered on a singular trope that is used repeatedly to overgeneralize an ethnic group. It is incorrect and harmful. This month is an opportunity to open up a dialogue, share our experiences, educate, and unite one another through our differences.

Original source can be found here.

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