Siwat's Perspective: Sharing positive stories in difficult times

With the rise of hate crimes and racial violence, I wanted to share a little bit of my personal experience with the recoup community. I consider myself an optimist; it is almost a prerequisite if you aspire to create things. I also believe that for the most part the people that have come into my life, regardless of whether it was for a brief period or an extended one, have done so to help me. I’ve experienced this early on in my life.

As many of you know, I spent the first few years of my life in the hospital and underwent many surgeries throughout my childhood. The people who cared for me during my childhood were a diverse group of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. And it’s safe to say that their love and care, combined with the innate love a mother has for her son, is the reason why I am alive today.

In the hospital, a life is a life and people from all backgrounds come together to care for all people, regardless of their race or ethnicity. In some ways it reflects many of the ideals of our society. To bring this to life, I'd like to share the stories of a few people in the medical world that have cared for me in the past.

There were a handful of nurses that took care of me on a regular basis. Nurses Evelyn, Kay and Dorcus were all amazing women from diverse backgrounds that took care of me and made sure that my mother, an immigrant woman from Thailand with not much family in the US, had someone to talk to if she needed it. 

Barbara was the receptionist on the hospital patient floor that I stayed on, and she was a wonderful, caring, black woman from North Carolina. Whenever she had the chance, she would sit and console my mother while I was in my hospital bed. I only found this out many years later when I ended up working at the same hospital and reunited with Barbara, I would sit and have lunch with her and she told me all the stories about my childhood at the hospital.

There is also the late great Dr. W., a tall, white, burly Texan that found his way to NYC. As a child I remember him being larger than life. I remember shaking his hand and seeing my hand disappear into his palm. Dr. W. was a pediatric nutritionist, a pioneer in his field. He had the vision to experiment with a new way to provide the necessary nutrition to me and other children with similar conditions. 

Dr. J. is an extraordinary Gastroenterologist. He's a Venezuelan-born Jewish man who immigrated to the US – he speaks four different languages (Hebrew, Spanish, French, and English), and he was put on this earth to save children’s lives. Above all, he deeply understood the human side of caring for patients. He understood that being a doctor was not just about diagnosing, prescribing and reevaluating. He offered my parents the soundboard they needed when they were scared and confused. I can honestly say that I owe my life to Dr. J. I still keep in touch with him today and I consider him a dear friend.

And lastly, there was Dr. P. a white man from the tri-state area. They say he was a surgeon whose hands were born to heal.  Full disclosure, I was terrified of Dr. P. because I knew if he was involved, it would mean that I would need some sort of surgery. I went through ten major surgeries before I was twelve. But after every procedure he would always tell me that I was responsible for “always making him look good among his colleagues”. The reality is that his knowledge and his gift of helping others is what led to the success in his career.

As a kid, I didn't think a lot about the different backgrounds or races of these people.  They were my superheroes; it didn't matter if they looked like me or not. When I look back at my life and I see how so many people from diverse backgrounds who have helped my parents and I, I can’t help but be extremely grateful. In medicine, the focus is not on the race of the patient or team, human lives are simply at stake, and that is something that stretches beyond any boundaries. In my mind, this is the type of society and community that is empowering.  

And now, when I read about the hate and violence that has been happening specifically to Asian Americans, I have trouble understanding and accepting it. I’ve experienced so much care and love from people of all backgrounds and ethnicities that I sometimes have trouble wrapping my mind around it all.  In all honesty, it just doesn’t make any sense to me. This is not who we want to be as a civilization; if we look back in time, hate has never propelled us forward. If anything, it’s hindered our progress exponentially. Bringing people together to build things and solve problems (big and small) is how we can move everyone forward.

 At recoup, we are a minority and female-founded company that stands against racism and discrimination of all kind. As a first-generation Asian American who believes in pursuing the American Dream, I am very saddened by the attacks that have occurred on Asian-Americans, and I ask that everyone lend a helping hand to ensure that everyone (all humans beings) feel safe and look after one another. I wanted to share these stories to add a positive voice to a time of much sadness and despair. I have been fortunate  and I want to give back in whatever ways I can. If you’d like to learn more on how to take action to help #stopasianhate, check out our resources here.

“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.” – Maya Angelou