Kris Henderson, 30’s
I help teach future presidents, astronauts, authors, publishers, editors, mathematicians, historians, scientists, engineers, leaders. A 3rd Grade teacher.
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
American, Washingtonian, PNW. Heritage Filipina, island life of Guam. Overall, Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI).
When and how did your family come to the United States? Where were you born?
My dad's family moved to Guam from the Philippines when they enlisted in the Navy. When my dad and mom got married, they were stationed in Hawaii, where I was born! Then, we were stationed in Guam to be closer to family. Finally, ended up in Washington and here is where I stayed.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian, Asian American, and/or Pacific Islander?
The stigma and bias being seen as an Asian American woman has its challenges but I try what I can to strengthen myself and help others learn about their own internal biases.
- In high school, yes, I was a harder working student, but in no way was I "smart." Classmates would ask me to copy notes or homework. However, I gained study habits and organizational skills that helped me get through life as an adult.
- In college/uni, I was approached a couple times because of how I looked. People would come up to me and try to guess my ethnicity or complimented my "exotic" features. This has affected me on how I perceive myself and I still have a hard time with my looks. It's an ongoing journey on finding role models and leaders that have the same or similar background as me and is recognized for their accomplishments in their community instead of their looks.
- Being an introvert doesn't mean that I'm the "submissive" Asian woman. I'm just careful of who my friends are because I want someone in my life who can support me and help me grow as a person. Also, being patient and observant, I take my time on the choices in my life and what I put myself through.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Working in the same elementary school I went to as a kid! The first time I applied, I didn't get it but got hired in a different school. When I saw that there was an opening years later, I applied for a transfer just to try one more time. This time, I got in! It is an amazing experience teaching in your childhood school!
What is one thing you learned or appreciate from your family growing up?
From my dad, I learned the importance of an education. Since he went straight to work after graduating from high school, he would tell me stories of his time balancing school and supporting his family. He would emphasize how important it was now that he is an adult.
From my mom, I learned the importance of hard work. My Nay was the academic type so she would remind me that the challenges I face in my time in college/uni will pay off in the future. There were many times I wanted to give up, but she was there supporting me every step of the way.
From my grandma, I learned the importance of family and tradition. Living so far from family in the Philippines and Guam, there was a moment when I felt that I was no longer considered an island girl. My grandma would share and instill the Filipino stories and traditions to my siblings and I growing up. Since she has passed, I try to write down as many of her stories and recipes in a journal before I forget.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
I don't speak Tagalog, but I have an ear for recognizing it. Sometimes, my parents will talk to me using simple Tagalog words that I can understand. I don't know why they used English around my siblings and I growing up.
Recently, I have been trying to learn more about the history of Tagalog, even the written Baybayin script that is now being reclaimed and taught. My family lights up when I sing Tagalog songs on the Magic Mic karaoke or watch romcom Tagalog movies together!
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
If you can, join communities or groups in your area to connect and learn. Go attend your city's council meetings or school board meetings. I hear and see the intention of these council members but they need help and guidance from you. They want to act but don't know how. When we have diverse leaders and members representing us, it can help create positive changes that our families, friends, and neighbors need.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
My partner and 2 cats! The small and big victories of being a teacher. The pile of books in my room, walking my cat through the park trails, and binge watching.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
My scholastic book campaign.
If you would like to share your voice as a person of color, please read the directions and fill out this form here. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome. Thank you!
Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
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Lina (Spring Roll Fever)
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