Mario Pilapil, 30's
Des Moines, Washington
I am an English Language Learner (ELL) and Social Studies teacher at Dimmitt Middle School.
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
When and how did your family come to the United States? Where were you born?
My parents immigrated to the US as teenagers and settled in Southern California. My mom immigrated when she was 12 and my dad at 17. I was born in Torrance, CA.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian, Asian American, and/or Pacific Islander?
Strengths: Growing up in a rich (not monetary), proud culture.
Challenges: Dismantling the model minority myth and internalised colonialism.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishments are watching my students grow into more amazingness every school year, and being recognized as Dimmitt Middle School’s Rotary Teacher of 2020.
What is one thing you learned or appreciate from your family growing up?
I’m grateful for my parents pushing responsibility on me. I grew up in a strict Filipino household where working hard for yourself and your loved ones was important. I had a lot of responsibilities that many kids didn’t, which really impacted my work ethic up to this day.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
Unfortunately, I don’t really speak Tagalog. I pushed away Tagalog at an early age because no one at my school spoke it and I wanted to fit in. I regretted it in high school, so I took three years at UW. It’s been eight years since Tagalog class and I still can understand decently well, but I need think-time if I have to speak.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
Be proud of your identity, keep your language alive, work for social equity and justice.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
My wife, Gloria, and accomplishing my goals.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
I'm currently in the process of creating a family archive of oral histories of my family. I flew back to California a couple years ago to interview my relatives and right now, I'm working on doing something with the content.
I'm also working with friends on creating greeting cards for BIPOC, and have designed several cards.
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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