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Portland Japanese Garden Hosts Asian American Native Hawai’ian Pacific Islander Roundtable Discussion

Asian and AANHPI leaders in the cultural institution, nonprofit, and public service sectors who attended Portland Japanese Garden’s roundtable discussion in May. Photo by Portland Japanese Garden.

In celebration of Asian American, Native Hawai’ian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, Portland Japanese Garden hosted a gathering of Asian and AANHPI leaders in the cultural institution, nonprofit, and public service sectors at the end of May. The roundtable discussion was centered around the theme, “How can we create a stronger AANHPI community in Portland?”

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The Garden was delighted to welcome representatives from a diverse group of professions and cultural backgrounds who, in addition to being members of the AANHPI community, have had impressive careers uplifting it. Portland Japanese Garden was represented by hosts Mayuko Sasanuma, Director of Cultural Programs, Paula Esguerra, Special Advisor to Japan Institute’s International Exchange Forum, and Megumi Kato, Director of Marketing & Communications.  Garden Board Trustee and community advocate Mari Watanabe led a spirited conversation that explored the challenges and successes of connecting their respective organizations with the cultures they serve and how they can help raise up the next generation of advocates in the community.

Portland Japanese Garden exists today because of a community coalition of cultural, business, and governmental organizations that rallied together to create a space for cross-cultural understanding after the tragedies of the World War II era. Because the organization recognizes the vast importance of being connected to its community, another topic posed to this group of leaders was how the Garden can improve its relationship with other groups and individuals throughout the region and become further ingrained in the community.

“I am grateful for all those who participated in this year’s event,” shares Kato. “The conversation was transparent, frank, and energizing. I’m honored and proud to be a part of this community, and to have the opportunity to help strengthen Portland Japanese Garden’s ties with this group. We’re now exploring how to continue conversations and expand this event so we can welcome more people in future iterations.”