Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

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May is a great month — Mother’s Day. International Museum Day. Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you). And who can forget Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? It definitely calls for some celebration.  And, I’m being totally serious.

Did you know that not only are Asian Americans the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States but also that 77% speak a non-English language at home and a significant portion do not speak English very well? Find a VSP doctor who also speaks a non-English language in your area by selecting your preferred language in the search criteria.

Talk about language barriers! Even though I used to go with my mom, who doesn’t speak English very well, to her doctor appointments to be a “translator”, I struggled to make my mom fully understand her doctor’s diagnoses and recommendations.

Breaking down language barriers is important because Asian Americans are more likely than Caucasians to develop type 2 diabetes. Diabetes, which can be detected early on through a comprehensive eye exam, affects about 10% of Asian Americans. And, Asian Americans are more likely than the general population to skip a comprehensive eye exam because they aren’t having any vision problems at the moment and are the most likely to believe that wearing glasses will make their vision worse.

That’s why I’m excited to see the growing trend of Asian Americans studying and working in the health field. In the 2013-2014 academic year, Asians were the 2nd largest ethnic group enrolled in American optometry schools. And, we’re seeing similar trends in other health fields!

I love seeing more Asians in the health field because I strongly believe that diversity in the workplace should represent that of my community.  As the workplace becomes more diverse, these language barriers will begin to crumble.

I told you this called for celebration. Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

This is a guest post by Julie L.,VSP employee and active member of our Asian Pacific Islander Business Resource Group.

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