Our next Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month spotlight features Matt Syrett, a director at Jabian. Matt shares his perspective on being a third-generation Asian American and what it means to him to be a part of the Asian American community.
Q: What does celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month month mean to you?
A: I am honestly still figuring out what it means. I am a third-generation, mixed-race Asian American so I’m farther removed from the Japanese culture and customs than other family members. But I want to learn more, I want to dig deeper into my family’s history and experiences. I know that I am fortunate to have grown up with friends who had great parents who saw past the surface-level Asianness. But I know my mom, uncle, and grandparents didn’t have it as easy. So, for me, I think this month is a reminder to reflect, connect with my family more deeply, and explore that Asianness together.
Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be once you grew up?
A: An NBA player and a marine biologist! Not at the same time. I realized in middle school in my first AAU tournament that the League wasn’t in my future when there were 6’5” 13-year-olds dunking and shooting threes. But we used to visit the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga every year before the Georgia Aquarium was built. I had a massive collection of Zoobooks and National Geographics and I would draw pictures of my favorite animals, coral, and sea creatures. Bottlenose dolphins and orcas are dope, eels are the worst.