Earlier this month, Walt Disney World kicked off Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month with “A World of Voices,” featuring live entertainment, delicious dishes and special experiences across the resort that honor AAPI culture and traditions. I’ve enjoyed many of these offerings myself, including the Disney Springs Art Walk and the mesmerizing Japanese garden at EPCOT. However, of all the incredible memories I’ve made so far this month, the one that sticks out as my favorite is celebrating the one-year anniversary of our FAMASIA BERG with my fellow cast members, family and friends.
At Disney, we have what we call Business Employee Resource Groups – or BERGs for short. These resource groups are dedicated to advancing our inclusive culture, strengthening collaboration and increasing opportunities for cast across the company. What also makes them special is the fact they are formed by cast for cast to authentically celebrate and amplify diverse voices. The COMPASS BERG provided support to our Florida-based cast who are members of or an ally to AAPI communities for many years before officially becoming FAMASIA in 2022.
“As someone from an underrepresented group, I understand the importance of having a community where I can be myself, where my culture is celebrated and recognized, and where the insights from my lived experiences help impact our business,” said Carmen Strong, Diversity & Inclusion Manager and FAMASIA BERG member. “FAMASIA helps our AAPI cast and community be seen and heard, and it encourages us all to be our true and authentic self every day.”
BERGs also play an integral role in helping influence business decisions at Disney, ensuring that our parks and products always remain in a constant state of becoming: becoming more vibrant, more inclusive, more delightful and more relevant.
One example of this is Chef Kevin Chong, a culinary cast member with Korean heritage who brought AAPI representation to tables across Walt Disney World by creating a delicious Korean Fried Chicken Bowl with Cucumber Namasu. The dish, inspired by his “Mama Chong” and Korean flavors, features double-fried chicken thighs tossed with Gochujang sauce, sesame seeds, green onions and namasu (pickled cucumbers).
Food is such a powerful inclusion tool because when you share a meal with someone, it provides an opportunity to sit down, appreciate the food and learn about each other’s unique identities – breaking any barriers that may exist along the way.
“I was born in Korea, but growing up in Hawaii helped me see the importance of celebrating diversity and understanding each other’s cultures,” Chef Kevin said. “One of my favorite memories from living in Hawaii is the shared expression of Aloha – or love – through food. Sharing a meal together is one of my favorite ways to experience different cultures.” If you’d like to recreate this dish at home with your family, click here for a printable version of the recipe!
Another way we share each other’s stories here at Disney is with cast-exclusive events, experiences and panels featuring diverse leaders and allies from across the company. FAMASIA has hosted several already this month, and because we’re stronger and better together, many of them have included cast voices from other BERGs, including PULSE and SHALOM which celebrate our Black, African American and Jewish cast members.
Looking back at the last year of FAMASIA, I feel so proud, welcomed and comforted by the family of cast we’ve built, and I’m more inspired than ever to continue creating a sense of belonging for all Disney cast members. I can’t wait to continue celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander communities not just for the remainder of this month, but all year long… and that will always be my favorite part of the Disney Cast Life.