“Our region continues reaching a diverse population and different cultures from AAPI communities so growing economies are helping and contributing to our society, many businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, beauty salons, laundromats, etc., are run by AAPI communities especially people from Burma/Myanmar. Buffalo’s population was at shrinking points for many decades but now is flooding in with refugees and immigrants. Housing, economies, and many different cultures and languages are growing and emerging here which are greatly being supported by the locals and state government including community organizations like Burmese Community Services (BCS)." – Steven Sanyu, President of Burmese Community Services in Buffalo, NY
“Hi, my name is Faustina Palmatier, and I am originally from Burma. I came to Buffalo, NY in 2007 as an asylum seeker and I have been the Executive Director of the Karen Society of Buffalo since 2021. My community flee Burma as a result of oppressions and human rights violations with the military regime. We estimate that there are over 10,000 Burmese refugees who have arrived in Buffalo over the past 16 years.
The mission of our grassroots organization Karen Society of Buffalo is to enhance the quality of life and to cultivate the self-sufficiency of immigrants from Burma, while preserving and sharing our cultural heritage. Our vision is a place where families find hope and connection to their cultural identity. We provide case management services, youth programing including teaching Karen language and culture, and convene community wide cultural events throughout the year. These include our annual Wrist Tying Ceremony, Karen New Year and Karen Martyrs Day festivities, as well as KSB Day Sports Tournament and Karen Food Festivals.
Our Population has enriched NYS in so many ways with blooming small businesses and vibrant cultural events occurring every year. There are Karen communities all over NYS including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Utica and Albany who has contributed to the growing economy of NY State.” – Faustina Palmatier, Executive Director, Karen Society of Buffalo
“Realistically--I had little to say about coming to New York-- I was adopted from South Korea as an infant, and brought to New York, in a time when transnational adoptions were frequent from Korea. As an adult, however, I choose to make NY my home, after leaving for college. I returned to the Capital Region because I love the community, the outdoors, and the potential we have to grow and the impact I can have on our area.
I like to think being a Korean adoptee has not robbed me of my Korean culture- but rather, being an adoptee is another form of culture as a Korean (hundreds of thousands of children were adopted out of country from Korea, as a result of war(s), societal pressures, and poverty. Our experiences, like every culture, is vast and different).
Speaking broadly though, about Korean culture and the impact on NYS-- Mass immigration of Koreans coming into New York came in waves--- and many who immigrated provided labor to the trades, but more often, you see a high density of small business owners sharing their culture through food, and more recently Kpop, movies and dramas. You can see the vibrancy of Korean culture in K-Town in NYC, and anywhere you go, you're able to witness the cultural impact of Korean media, with shows, films, and music like Squid Game, Parasite, and BTS. On a larger scale, Korean companies, like Samsung, are a huge player in the technology field- and their partnership with locally based companies (GlobalFoundries), helped enrich the business environment for the Capital Region.
I think there are so many beautiful aspects of Korean culture that other New Yorkers would grow by learning. The concept of Jeong-- the feeling of connection and bonding to people and places-- is one of my favorite Korean concepts. I, of course, also love the food and media.
I'm not sure what I can say I have contributed to the State outside of trying to be a good citizen, and working to build community within the spaces I exist.
I benefited from the SUNY system, and being allowed to take classes in high school to supplement my education. The great amount of colleges in the Capital Region helped me succeed academically, and I think led to success in my career.” – Nicolle Beaury (Troy, NY)
“So I followed [my husband who got a job] and moved to New York. When I moved here, I made some friends [that] came from different country. So I learned different kinds of cultures. Like how we get along with our family and friends in different cultures. And also I know the real life of American, etc. I took some English classes from Sunhee’s Community, Library, and Hudson Community College. I learned a lot of cultures about America. Let me know the origin of America Festival. The government how to work. America, how to vote etc. the important thing is I knew some excellent volunteer teachers. Their thoughts changed my mind.
It is really important to share our culture with other New Yorkers. They also interest our cultures. I found some people actually didn't know what the real Asian culture is. So sharing our culture is a good way to learn from each other. Now I think my contribution is that I have became a volunteer teacher to teach some kids. [English classes] helped me a lot. Especially, the volunteer teachers who teach us some knowledge and life skills. And how to communicate with local people in English, etc.” –Doreen M.
“Initially, I came to NY to study art history to become a art curator. After I moved to NY, I learned being assertive is necessary to be successful in NY which is opposite in Japan.
My most important culture value is still being humble and respectful to others with thoughtfulness that I share with all people every day. New York gave me a great opportunity to grow myself to be a person with a big heart.” – Anonymous, from Japan
“Today, as I am writing this, I am a senior studying Political Science at the University at Buffalo and will graduate with honors this May. I am planning to take a gap year and then pursue my master’s degree at Georgetown University. I am hoping to work for the Department of State once I graduate. Prior to coming to the States, I had no idea what a resume was and now I have a resume that is filled with internships, research assistant experiences, volunteer work, and campus leadership activities. I did a study abroad program in Turkey this past fall and traveled solo to 12 cities there. You may call all these achievements. But for me personally, the actual achievement is who I have become over the past six years as a result of everything that I have done. I feel like a person. This might sound silly, but it is true. The United States and all the opportunities it has offered me dared me to dream and feel like an individual. I think I finally understand what freedom and peace feel like and all I can say is, it is empowering.” – Anonymous, submitted by Keeping Our Promise, Inc.
“New York has even given me opportunities and has allowed me to be who I am. I was born, raised, and went to school in New York and am now a teacher in a suburban district outside Albany. There I am an example to my students, some of whom are AAPI members. I hope to inspire them and make them feel strong and proud to be both AAPI and American. We are diverse and strong and make New York the beautiful tapestry it is. I am unabashedly South Asian and American and a native New Yorker.” – Preya Krishna-Kennedy, Mother, Teacher, Wife, New Yorker, and South Asian American
Tai Ngo Shaw
At the age of 10, Tai Ngo Shaw left Vietnam on a boat and made his way to New York.
Chef Yono Purnomo, Co-owner of Yono’s Restaurant in Albany, NY
“I came to the United States with my family in 2017. Leaving everything we knew behind and deciding to start a new life in a new country was scary, but at least not scarier than staying where we were. However, we didn’t know what to expect and how to adjust to our new life. But as soon as we arrived at the Rochester airport, we saw a group of people holding a sign with our names on it and welcoming us to our chosen home. Ellen, along with Keeping Our Promise volunteers, was our first impression of the United States. They were standing with smiling faces and made us feel welcome. Despite the pain of leaving our country behind and the nerve-racking thought of starting a new life, we knew one thing at that moment and that was that we weren’t alone. Ellen and her team showed up for me and my family in times of need whether with words of encouragement or the resources that we needed time and time again.” – Maryam, Submitted by Keeping Our Promise, Inc.
Abdul Rahim Rahim
“I came to this country with my family. At first, I had no idea what it meant to be American or what it meant to be Asian American. In a diverse place like New York, I believe it is crucial for people to learn about each other with an open mind. Through [the Coalition for Asian American Children+Families] and the Asian American Student Advocacy Project, I learned to be proud of myself and know that I have a voice in educating others.” – Anonymous
A Road Named After a Chinese in New York State
Forty miles away from downtown Albany, there is a street called Dean Lung Road, named after a Chinese man. Dean Lung (丁龙) came to the U.S. in 1875, and worked as a laborer. In 1890, he arrived in New York City working as General Horace Carpentier’s servant. He was devoted to the disorderly Carpentier, and his loyalty led Carpentier to understand and learn about Chinese culture.
In 1901, Dean Lung sent Columbia University a sizable donation, writing: “I send you here with a deposit check for $12,000 as a contribution to the fund for Chinese Learning in your university.” With this money, as well as additional funding from Carpentier, Columbia established one of the foremost East Asian Studies programs not only in the United States, but also in the world. The seemingly modest loyalty of one man led to a lasting impact on how Asian people and their culture were viewed in the United States. – Submitted by Stacy Chen
First Chinese Student in New York State
In 1872, the Chinese government sent the first group of 30 government-sponsored students to the United States. They were all kids aged ten to fifteen. The youngest student was Ming Chung Pawn (潘铭钟). These students stayed with American host families and learned English, American History, and American Culture in schools. Pawn notably worked and studied the hardest.
After five years of studying, in 1877, fifteen-year-old Pawn had gone from not knowing the alphabet to passing the entrance exam to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was the first student sent by the Chinese government to enter an American college. The Troy Times acclaimed him as “an exceedingly bright student and gave promise of ranking among the first in his class.” Unfortunately, in 1879, Pawn contracted a disease and passed away. While in Troy, Pawn became a devout Christian. Before his death, he wrote a short poem to his minister:
“Dr. Clark has saved my heart,
Where I lie there let me die,
Where'er I be, there bury me.”
Today, New York State is home to more than 106,000 international students, ranking second, after California, in the nation. – Submitted by Stacy Chen
“HP Wang was one of the first Asian-American Scientists in the NY Capital region, working at General Electric’s Research and Development Center from 1976 to 2010. He holds over 100 patents in technologies involving appliances, lighting, plastics, silicones and medical systems. He invented a technology to improve gas turbine efficiency for power generation and aircraft engines, reducing CO2 emissions equivalent to those produced by 30 million cars each year.
HP Wang was a passionate community leader for decades. He was strategic, thoughtful, and created space for others to bring their best selves forward. He served as President and Board Chair for the Chinese Community Center at the NY Capital region. In 1997, he founded GE’s Asian Pacific American Forum (APAF) which has grown to 26 chapters and 6000 members. In 2016, he founded the Albany NY chapter of APAPA (Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs), a national civic engagement organization. In each of these endeavors, he successfully pulled together disparate groups to work together towards a common goal.
HP Wang passed away on Sept 6th, 2022. His legacy leaves a long-lasting immeasurable impact to the NY Capital region, to the State, and to all of us.” – Submitted by Jianzhong Tang
“I was raised in a small village in northeast India, where I aspired to follow in my family’s long line of educators. At that time, I never envisioned that my path would ultimately take me to the helm of a premier public research university in the United States. In fostering a welcoming environment that cherishes cultural diversity, champions pluralism and embraces a multitude of viewpoints, New York State helped make this opportunity of a lifetime possible— just as it has opened up avenues of success for Asian American Pacific Islanders across every sector of society. It is an honor to serve the University at Buffalo, and it is privilege for me to call Buffalo—and New York—home.” – Satish K. Tripathi, President, University at Buffalo
“While I was growing up, no one knew about Korean culture, let alone the fact that South Korea exists, not just North Korea. People only knew of Japan and China when it came to East Asia, while Koreans in Korea were a little obsessed with European and American culture. I was always proud to be Korean and never really felt the need to be "more American," unlike many other Asian Americans who may have experienced more racism. I think it's because I was integrated in a Korean community with my church growing up. I was closer with my church friends than my school friends. And sometimes other Americans came to our church to worship and experience Korean culture. With the Hallyu Wave, Koreans are suddenly more seen. We may be just another fun culture to "try," an obsession, or even integrated into people's personal lives.
Immigrants make their home and communities in new lands. Despite their tendency to isolate themselves, opportunities were found and taken to experience our food, our friendships, our music, our stories, etc. American culture isn't simply other countries' culture. It's the sharing and adaption to one another that has built America and it is ever changing as the world is too.” – Julie Kahng
“My passion in public health addressing health equity and health disparity traced back from the faraway small Asian country, Myanmar (Burma), which has 135 official ethnic groups with decade-long armed conflict. Mounting political clashes pushed me to seek asylum in America. With my family, we resettled in Albany, New York, a place we can call home, like all other immigrants and refugees, creating, reflecting a global, diverse cultural hub. I appreciate NY for the opportunities sharing a sense of pride in our Myanmar cultural heritage, feeling of connection in promoting intercultural awareness and the reality in Myanmar. With my mentor's guidance, I achieved my DrPH from New York's top-notched higher education academia, SUNY UAlbany. Being a Presidential Health Disparity Fellow, we embrace diversity addressing disparities, promoting the well-being of the diverse community. I also expand my research on health and culture to encourage my society in the Region. As a housewife, and mom, so fond of cooking our traditional cuisine with a unique taste, a blend of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, I see NY bestow various flavors flourished by our Asian Pacific Islanders that all New Yorkers could enjoy in differing spicy levels to your taste.” – Dr. Hnin Wai Lwin Founder and President of Myanmar Multiethnic Sociocultural Association in the Capital Region, NY.
“Albany, the capital of New York State, is the first city where my husband worked. When we arrived in that autumn, we were amazed by its clusters of golden flowers and trees, like a fascinating autumn dream. We have also gradually gotten used to its long winter, looking forward to the joy brought by the new greenery and budding flowers in spring... Our sons and daughters were born there, and we made several good friends for life. Albany is not only livable and cultivating , but also allows us who are just starting out to accumulate our efforts and gradually grow in work and family. It is a very important city in our life.” – Anna T. Lee
“Like many first generation immigrants from Taiwan in the 70s and 80s, I came to the US for higher education and for a better life afterwards. My husband, Hsin-Pang Wang came from a very similar background like me. We met at the University of Florida where he was a graduate student and I was an undergraduate. We got married after dating for two years.
We moved to the Capital District in Nov. 1976 for his first job which was at General Electric Company. On our first day driving in to Schenectady facing the cold grey sky and deserted streets on that Sunday afternoon, we said to each other, “Two Years Only”.
Two years quickly became 47 and I am still in the area. In that time, we worked nearly our entire careers at GE and then retired; we raised a set of twins and now they have their own families and left NYS. We bought our first house and then we built our dream house. Sadly, I lost my dear husband last year on September 6, 2022.
Happiness and sadness have come and gone. But our hearts and home will remain in NYS forever.” – Anonymous submission
"I was very [young] when I moved to New York, so for the few years of my life in America, I was here for because my parents liked it here, but after I grew up and started to understand how things worked in America, I felt a connection with New York. I don’t know [whether] it’s because I have been here half of my life, or because I know all the benefits of being in New York. I don’t know how things work in other states, so for me New York is the best." – Chandra Kadel