By Ben Torell, AEN Member at Best Buy
May was Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and was celebrated at many places all over the country, but not many corporate communities encourage celebrations as big as the ones that are held at Best Buy Company’s Corporate Campus in Richfield, Minn.
Best Buy encourages and allows time for a steering committee to plan and fund many free events around the corporate campus throughout APA Heritage Month. The Asian Employee Network (AEN) is one of many employee groups that meet regularly to encourage diversity and participation in awareness events throughout the year. Over 4,800 employees and subcontractors call the campus their workplace and most of them pass through an area called “The Hub”. It is an attractive, centrally located area in the middle of four buildings and has Sandy's Place, a cafe with a 6,500-square-foot servery with nine different restaurant food stations and an 880-seat, 17,000-square-foot dining room.
One early May 2012 afternoon, AEN hosted a Kickoff event to celebrate APA Heritage Month and China Insight and the Chinese Heritage Foundation were there to celebrate with them in “The Hub”. Precious artifacts that are privately owned, as well as the renowned Best Buy Corporate Collection were on display. Also, there was a display of beautiful textiles and traditional clothing, including a free photo opportunity wearing Asian contemporary clothing to commemorate the event. Over 80 photos were taken and given to employees to celebrate APA Heritage Month.
One of the highlights of the event was a fortune telling event using traditional Chinese fortune telling sticks, or kau cim. Employees lined up before the event began and stayed steady until long after the event was scheduled to end. The lines were never less than four people deep, but they had plenty of things to look at while they waited.
Another annual event at the Best Buy corporate campus in May is the “Taste of Asia”. This free event provides samples of some of the best food and teas from local restaurants. This year over 250 people were given samples from 15 different types of food, ranging from appetizers, salads, entrees, deserts and teas. Countries represented included India, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan and Korea.
New Horizon Academy has a childcare center located at Best Buy’s campus and the children are encouraged to learn about Asian cultures during APA Heritage Month. They partner with Best Buy’s AEN to celebrate throughout the month, as Best Buy employees read stories and visit with the students in special classes celebrating Asian cultures. Also, the third week of May brought over 250 students together in “The Hub” and they participated in activities such as learning their own name in Chinese characters, creating Asian water coloring, folding origami, and learning key phrases in five different languages.
Every year many children and employees experience Asian cultures and enjoy the offerings and appreciate a variety of events that are provided at Best Buy at no charge or cost and the company has shown itself to support and encourage Asian appreciation and awareness. It is wonderful to see commitment to events like this in an office environment.