Meet the Crew, AAPI Heritage Edition: Joanne

Leanne Yenush

We’re back with an AAPI Heritage Month Edition of the Meet the Crew series. Introducing Joanne, a Senior Accountant at Hydrow from Quincy, MA who joined the team nearly a year ago. Read on to learn more about Joanne and her Chinese heritage.

What drew you to Hydrow? 

I’ve been a fitness fanatic for as long as I can remember and have always pushed myself to become a healthier, stronger me so I jumped at this opportunity to work in the fitness industry!

Tell us a bit about your upbringing and Chinese heritage? 

A big part of who I am is largely attributed to my parents, who met back when they were living in a small village in eastern China. Like many other Asian immigrants, they came to the United States to escape the harsh conditions of the countryside, and to provide better opportunities for the kids they planned on having. It may seem like a no-brainer, but they had to leave their friends, their lives, and everything that was once familiar to them. When I joined the world, they had to navigate raising a child in a new country with traditions they brought with them from a different culture.

I grew up Asian American -- that didn’t mean I was one or the other at home with my family versus in public, but it meant I had to find a balance between my Asian upbringing and American culture. I recently learned about inosculation, a natural phenomenon in which two trees, once separate, grow together, twisting and intertwining as they grow. 

Being brought up in two cultures is like inosculation. We celebrate two birthdays every year: one that falls during the typical calendar year and one that falls in the lunar calendar. I eat rice and Asian cuisine for some meals, and burgers and fries the rest of the time. My family celebrates annual mid-autumn festivals and eat moon cakes, but we also watch fireworks and celebrate every Independence Day. I receive red envelopes as gifts from family, and wrapped toys from friends at school. I consider my apartment to be very modern, but amongst the scattered items in my living room you’ll find samurai figurines and Asian scrolls with Chinese characters on them that are meant to bring good luck. Although I’ve always lived in the United States, my culture is a combination of both Asian and American. In the end, the result of being brought up in two cultures is something uniquely beautiful.

How has your heritage helped shape the incredible woman you are today?

My heritage has taught me strength and resiliency. My parents have taught me to work hard and to fight for what I want, that nothing comes easy, and to put in 100% effort if I really want something. And as messy, blunt, and loud as they are, my parents are amazing.

So for them, I strive to be the best version of myself and live my best life every day so that their struggles and sacrifices were not made in vain. 

What are your favorite parts about your Chinese heritage and culture?

The food! Asian food is AMAZING. My dad is a chef at restaurants and my mom is an avid cook, so growing up I was lucky to always have great food on the table. Dinners were eaten together, family-style, usually consisting of a meat or seafood dish (sometimes both), a vegetable dish, and always accompanied by a bowl of rice! My favorite is my mother-in-law’s Hong Shao Rou (pork buns), which is braised pork belly, and pickled veggies, wrapped in a bun.

If you could give your younger self advice regarding growing up as Asian American, what would it be?

I would say to be yourself and not care so much about what others perceive you to be. You’re not going to be able to please everyone, so focus on what ultimately makes you happy. 

What can others do to support the AAPI community?

Everything that Christie suggested (here)! Plus, I would suggest that you read up on bystander intervention methods while keeping the conversations about Anti-Asian hate going. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time? 

I love reading, running, playing tennis, and taking my dog, Diego, on adventures!