Asian American Pacific Islander Month: 8 Questions for Kong Yang
May marks Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. To celebrate, we’re recognizing Walser Automotive Group employees within the AAPI community and highlighting their stories. We recently spoke to Kong Yang, Detail Manager at the Walser Reconditioning Center. He told us about his journey into the automotive industry and why the meaning of family is especially important in his community.
Kong Yang, Walser Reconditioning Center
How did you find your way to Walser?
My parents own a detail shop. I have been detailing for as long as I can remember since I was nine years old. My whole career has been working at dealerships and I ended up here for eleven years. I came here as a detailer and worked my way up.
How do you identify within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community?
I’m Hmong. I was born in the States, and my parents are from southeast Asia—Laos or Thailand, somewhere around there.
How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?
It’s shaped my connection to my family, culture, and being spiritual.
Does your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?
Yes, family gatherings. We regularly have family gatherings here and there. One is on New Year’s, which is around the time of Thanksgiving.
Who are the role models or mentors that have influenced you or helped guide you?
My parents. My family, too, but specifically my parents. They prepared me to be who I am today.
What brings you joy about your heritage and culture?
Pretty much everything. The food. The general culture. One of my favorite things is family gatherings. Everyone is partying and having fun.
This past year, there has been an exponential rise in hate-filled actions towards the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. What does showing up to support the AAPI community, both internally and externally, look like for you?
It’s important for people to be physically at things. Instead of just having Asians show up at a rally or protests, multiple cultures and people showing up makes others feel good and seen. We are all from different backgrounds and it’s important to come together. As my parents say, “We all bleed the same.”
What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?
Usually, we celebrate on specific holidays, but this month helps to bring the broader Asian-American community together. It helps to make everyone more aware of it.
The celebration of multiculturalism and the heritage of all employees is a critical part of Walser’s company core values. Walser supports the continuous education and cultural enrichment of its employees through an internal digital resource library and platform called Mosaic. Walser also offers formally organized Employee Resource Groups open to all employees called Women of Walser (supporting the recruitment, retention, and ascension in the automotive industry) and Drive With Pride (support of Walser’s LGBTQIA+ employees and customers).