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      May 25, 2023

      Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month at Continental

      During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we’re proudly celebrating our Asian and Pacific Islander team members.  The month focuses on paying tribute to generations who have enriched and strengthened our nation. The U.S. is home to millions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, representing a diverse array of cultures and traditions.

      Meet Debbie, a GOLD Program Manager (Continental's loyalty program for tire dealers) for Continental’s Tires Group Sector, and Watson, an Associate Software Engineer for the company’s Automotive Group Sector.  Debbie and Watson are both current members of the AAPI Network within Continental, which launched in February 2021. The ERG has more than 30 member and is continually growing.

      Debbie Richards (GOLD Program Manager):

      Having always had a passion for the automotive industry, Debbie says Continental was a natural fit, and collaboration with different departments throughout the Tire business sector is where she finds excitement in her daily work.    

      ”When it comes to inspiration, I am inspired by the passionate, high-caliber individuals I get to work with on my team both directly and indirectly,” Debbie  explained.  “Collaborating with multiple different departments to find creative ways to bring value to our independent tire dealers is really interesting and exciting for me.” 

      Continental: How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

      Debbie: Exposure to my Asian traditions and customs, from food to art to religion, has helped broaden my perspective and given me a deeper appreciation for diversity and cultural complexity. These experiences help shape my overall creativity, empathy, and global awareness in my daily activities.

      Continental: Does your family have any traditions that are especially important and meaningful to you?

      Debbie: My family tradition is to sit around a large table and enjoy hot pot together. Hot pot typically features ingredients such as thinly sliced meats, seafood, vegetables, and noodles, which are cooked in a heated pot of stock.

      Continental: What are some interesting hobbies or talents that most people may not know about you?

      Debbie: I grew up as a competitive dancer and received multiple scholarship opportunities to pursue the arts.  This isn’t particularly common in my culture; common interests or hobbies would be dragon dancing or musical instruments. 

      Continental: What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you and how do you celebrate the month?  

      Debbie: It is a time dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States to help promote cultural understanding, respect, and solidarity across diverse groups of people.  I am extra mindful during this month when working with coworkers to create cultural awareness in the workplace. 

      Continental: In the U.S., Continental launched its first AAPI ERG in February 2021. When did you join and what motivated you to become an advocate for this ERG?  

      Debbie: I joined the ERG in in the late summer of 2021.  I saw the AAPI ERG as an opportunity to showcase and celebrate my culture, traditions, and accomplishments— helping to promote diversity and inclusion within Continental.

      Continental: What would you tell someone who is considering joining the AAPI Network?

      Debbie: Joining is a great way to show support and create a stronger community together. Our AAPI network allows us to connect with other individuals who share similar experiences, challenges, and perspectives while providing valuable resources and opportunities for personal and professional growth.


      Watson Tong (Associate Software Engineer):

      As an escape from the “boring family-owned restaurant life,” as Watson explains, he says he spent his time playing video games growing up, which helped paved the way for him to establish a  career in programming. 

      Continental:  As an engineer in our Continental Engineering Services (CES), what’s the most exciting part of your job?

      Watson: CES works on a lot of different projects, whichexposes me to a wider field of understanding the different parts that go into the automotive industry.

      Continental: How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

      Watson: I think that there's a stronger emphasis on "family" and I take that to heart. My friends and coworkers I treat like family. I tend to put what's best for the whole above my own personal desires.

      Continental: What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

      Watson: To be honest, it didn’t mean much growing up. We lived in the Downriver area of Michigan and there weren’t many other Asians in my neighborhood Slowly it has become more prevalent to recognize and celebrate diversity and culture – especially Asian culture. Growing up I felt that celebrating and recognizing our culture was not prioritized, as I didn’t experience it, but having this dedicated month to showcase our contributions in the U.S. is meaningful. I’m happy that an AAPI Network  exists at Continental to help spread the awareness.

      Continental: What would you like to tell someone who is considering joining the AAPI Network?

      Watson: Spread the word!

      Debbie Richards

      GOLD Program Manager

      Watson Tong

      Associate Software Engineer