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Speaking at ASPIRE

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

By Jian Ping

ASPIRE, an Asian Pacific Internal Revenue Employee organization, had its annual conference in Chicago last week. I felt honored to be invited by Marina Milton, President of ASPIRE, to give a talk at their dinner banquet at the Marriott Hotel on Michigan Avenue last Thursday.

The first time I appeared at an Asian/Pacific organization was last May at the Annual Federal Asian Pacific Council’s (FAPAC) conference in Houston, TX. I was invited to give a talk at a panel. It was the first time for me to see so many Asians under one roof in the U.S. The conference offered many workshops to help Federal Asian employees and students who wanted to pursue careers at Federal agencies to advance their careers. ASPIRE served a similar mission, limited to Internal Revenues Services only.

I shared with the 150+ attendees my experiences as a first generation immigrant and told them stories of my role models—my grandmother and my parents who inspired me to overcome barriers I had encountered in my journey. I was touched when many people in the audience resonated with me, especially Harry, a Japanese descent who was born and raised in the U.S. He talked about how he felt obliged to avoid his Japanese name growing up and regretted that even his marriage certificate didn’t bear his real, Japanese name.

We are lucky to live in an era in which diversities are being embraced and the “melting pot” is no longer a simple assimilation, but rather a mosaic of different cultures and ethnicities. Racial and immigrant issues are still sensitive topics, as demonstrated by the new Arizona law that is still under debate/appeal, and the forced resignation of a director in the USDA because of some heavily edited speech addressing racial discrimination. But we are making tremendous progress and the fact that organizations such FAPAC and ASPIRE exist and have annual meetings to help Asian Pacific Americans to enhance their career development speaks volume.

I walked away from the ASPIRE banquet feeling empowered and optimistic.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit or

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Panel at FAPAC Annual Conference

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

FAPAC, Houston. From left to right: Alice Wong, Chau le Williams, Jian Ping and Charles Fan

From left to right: Alice Wong, Chau Le Williams, Jian Ping and Charles Fan. FAPAC, Houston. May 12, 2009

It was inspiring to be at the Federal Asian Pacific American Council’s annual conference (24th) in Houston earlier this week. The theme of this year’s week-long conference is Leadership to Meet the Challenges of a Changing World. Mr. Farook Sait, President of the Council, addressed the attendees several times during the two days I was there. He is one of the most eloquent and inspiring speakers I’ve ever met. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and talk with him in person.  

I felt honored to be a panelist at the conference and delighted to meet with many people. Among them, Mr. Kin Wong, Co-Chair of the Conference, Mr. Charles Fan, Immediate Past President of the Council, Ms. Alice Wong, Senior Advisor at the State Department who introduced me at my panel, Ms. Marina Milton, Chair, Program Committee, Mr. Pushparajan Arokiaswamy, Executive Secretary, Ms. Chau Le Williams, former President of the Council, Mr. Hillol Ray, Poet Laureate, and more.  Many talented, high achievers. In fact, it was the first conference I had ever attended in the US that had so many Asians under one roof. I felt the energy and bonding of the group and became more conscious of the role that each of us should play in our daily life and responsibilities as an Asian, an immigrant, in this adopted country that we now call home.

I was the sole panelist on the plenary “Yes, You Can, Overcoming Adversity.” I talked about Belief and Optimist, Persistence and Patience. I also encouraged everyone to cast away the limitations we tend to set over ourselves and pursue the dream(s) and passion we possess. The one-hour-and-fifteen-minute session flew by. In the end, many people in the audience left their names and e-mail addresses for further communication. I felt privileged and encouraged.

I had to leave the Conference to get back to my work in Chicago. I wish I could have stayed longer, attending some sessions and engaging in more inspiring discussions.



Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit