Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Highlight

“When I was four years old, there was a fire.

At that point, my parents had been in the country for only a few years – specifically, Chicago. As everything they had begun to build evaporated, they realized that starting over with a toddler and a second child on the way was challenge upon challenge. So, at four and a half I boarded a plane with one of my mother’s cousins and flew halfway around the world to my place of birth, Modasa, India.

I lived with my grandparents and attended an English language school. While my parents struggled to reclaim our lives in the states, I spent my days with English as a distantly second language and America as a vague concept. When I got back to Chicago, nothing was familiar. Children are built for transition, but these extremes tested my ability to adapt.

The culture and process around school in America was confusing to my parents. While the goals were, of course, familiar, the way in which the US school system operates seems vast and incomprehensible. I started to be the translator for my parents, explaining to them what was expected, what I needed. They are passionate and caring people and probably went overboard with pushing me into opportunities (I likely could have done without roller skating classes). However, the result of that confusion was the foundation of my understanding of how to truly communicate.

I went in a different direction than my parents, or really anyone in my community expected. I studied art. I dreamed not of the expected hospitals and labs, but of lofts and studios filled with canvas and paint. I never ended up in my childhood fantasy, but I found a way to use my upbringing and skills to impact the world. For years I have worked as a designer and artist; focusing on how and why people communicate. As a digital creative director for RKD Group my role is not just to make something presentable and engaging, but to see a need, and connect that need to an audience in a way they will understand. I take a concept and make it real.

Finding the connection is always the hardest part of our job, and there is no possible way that I could do it without all the experiences that have made me into the person I am today. Sometimes my history makes it more difficult. I don’t always have the same cultural touchstones as my colleagues and there is still pop culture that is a mystery to me, but it always allows me to bring a different twist to a project.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. That represents so many different cultures and peoples that it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around. But it includes me, and I am overwhelmingly proud that my upbringing and culture have led me to be the person I am today.”


Nipa Thakkar Eason