Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — Meet Piyush
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is more than just for celebration. It is a time to learn about the languages, nationalities, histories, and cultures of the individuals that make up the area, including those from the East, Southeast, Pacific Islands, and Indian subcontinent.
Continuing our recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’d like to introduce you to Piyush. Piyush earned his undergrad degree in Architecture in his home country of India. He then made his way to America through a student visa, studying Landscape Architecture at the University of Colorado.
We spent some time with Piyush to learn more about his journey to America, family, and path to landscape architecture at J2 Engineers.
J2 – What are you most proud of related to your culture? How does it help define you?
Piyush: “India has so many different languages, histories, and street food that you could die for. I found a lot was weighing on my shoulders when I decided to leave for America. With the pressure of leaving your own country, you find yourself having to prove yourself. Indian culture and my background keep me pushing forward.”
J2 – Did your family face challenges when they first arrived? Do you face challenges as an Asian Pacific American?
Piyush: “Honestly, there haven’t been challenges. Neither my family nor I have encountered racism or difficulty with others.”
“Attending the University of Colorado made it easier for me to experience and see things for the first time. Americans are franker and open up more; that was a bit of a culture shock for me. It was surprising to me that Americans are not that close to their family. Here it is so much different, and back home, family is so important to Indian culture.”
J2 – Are there certain traditions or cultural influences that impact the way you do business?
Piyush: “In India, the people are humble, creative, and hard-working. Honesty and sincerity run strong in my culture. People of India are always willing to take on a challenge; some will say ‘yes’ to anything. For me, saying ‘yes’ to challenges in my career comes from my background and culture.”
J2 – Do you still have family back home? If so, do you keep in touch and/or visit?
Piyush: “Myself, my mom, and dad are all immigrants. My parents travel back and forth but have not fully moved to America. Due to the severity of COVID in India, my parents are stuck there and haven’t been back to visit for several months. I have an older sister who is married and lives in Delhi. I miss her, but we find ways to talk on the phone or through video conferencing. I typically visit once a year. However, the pandemic has made that difficult in the last year.”
J2 – Our firm is culturally diverse; is that something that attracted you to J2?
Piyush: “When I joined J2 in May of 2019, I was not fully aware of their company values. I’ve learned that they really care about their employees and value their input. We receive regular surveys that address things like COVID, parties, holidays, and much more. Other companies, much larger than J2, do not focus on these things.”
“The entire firm recently participated in a workshop on diversity and inclusion. This was an eye-opener for me. The team shared so much information. It’s amazing to work alongside such a diverse group of individuals, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and many more.”
“Here, we grow as an individual. They push you to find what you enjoy most, sometimes into different fields. They let you do what you want to do in your career.”
J2 – How did you get to where you are today? Were there individuals that influenced you or helped you along the way?
Piyush: “I have had so many influencers all through my life. If I decide to do something, I go for it. I put in all of the hard work, and if I fail, that’s fine. I’ll try again. Even as an adult, I am still learning from my parents.”
“A major influence was a former boss of mine back in India. He received his master’s degree through MIT. He pushed us all a lot and encouraged us to go to school in the US. Five to six students from my class came to the states to attend different universities.”
“My current influencer is Adam Steiner, he’s a good mentor, and I am learning a lot from him. I moved to the DC area to follow the love of my life. Adam hired her at a previous company. I knew that I would be able to learn a lot from him, and without following my wife’s dreams, I would not be at J2!”
We asked Adam to share his thoughts on serving as Piyush’s mentor. “Piyush joined the J2 LA Studio in its first year. He is integral to growing the department and serves as a mentor to our expanding staff,” shares Adam Steiner, Senior Associate, Landscape Architect, J2. “Piyush is an excellent designer with strong technical skills who can walk through any concept with ease. His experience spans the gambit. He is a true asset to our team.”
AAPI Heritage Month Background
Congress passed a resolution back in 1978 to declare the first week of May as AAPI Heritage Week to mark two significant events, the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to the US and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which thousands of Chinese immigrants worked to complete. In 1992 congress determined that the entire month of May would celebrate AAPI heritage and include education, programs, and cultural celebrations to honor Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. For more information on AAPI Heritage Month, visit asianpacificheritage.gov.
To learn more about J2 and our career opportunities, please visit j2engineers.com/careers.