Our Red Cross volunteers come together during times of crisis and suffering to provide aid when it is needed most. They come from different backgrounds with traditions and cultures that are native to their heritage and upbringing. This month, we recognize and honor the work of our Asian American and Pacific Islander volunteers for all they do for our lifesaving mission.
Meet Melody Chan, a Red Cross youth volunteer from the Southern California Region. We sat down with her to ask more about her heritage and what inspires her to give back.
What does your culture mean to you?
As an Asian American, my cultural identity is a foundation for who I am. It has allowed me to connect with my heritage and community that is much bigger than me. I am incredibly proud to know that the knowledge of my culture has widened my perspective and influenced the perspectives of those around me.
What family traditions did you have growing up?
Typically, on holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving, my family would cook a huge Chinese dinner to celebrate. It’s always amazing to see the blend of cultures. My family would gather in the kitchen and living room while my dad would make homemade dumplings. Afterward, we would sit down to eat and there was always a bright and loud conversation. When I was old enough, my parents started teaching me traditional family recipes.
Why are your family traditions so important to you?
They allow me to connect with my culture uniquely and have given me some of the best memories. I have been able to create such strong bonds with my family through traditions and I feel how much sacrifice and love are behind them. I feel so special to know that I was learning about such a symbolic part of my family and the generations that came before me. I am proud to know that I hold these traditions and will one day be able to pass them on to future generations.
What are the three most important things that people should know about your culture?
• Family is always important and treasured.
• Sharing food is a symbol of unspoken love.
• Always care for the people around you.
When and how did you get involved with the Red Cross?
I first got involved in the Red Cross the summer before my junior year of high school through the annual Leadership Development Camp. After being exposed to such a strong and warm community, I was motivated to join the Orange County Red Cross Youth Leadership team.
What is your ‘Why’ for giving back and volunteering?
The inspiration I feel when I am helping others is my “why.” It is such a special experience to connect with my community and show my appreciation for its people. I am incredibly grateful for opportunities to spread positivity and improve the lives of others.
What is your most memorable moment at the Red Cross?
During quarantine, I hosted a virtual Diversity and Inclusion event. I witnessed people opening up about the challenges and experiences that have shaped them. It was inspiring to see so many people come together virtually to make that happen during such a difficult time.
Any words of wisdom or advice you would like to pass on to others?
Always live with a grateful heart and focus on the positive details because it will lead you to learn from lessons and grow with every experience. Always look for opportunities to care for the people around you because you will find purpose in spreading goodness.
Become a Volunteer
Learn how you can become a volunteer like Melody at redcross.org/VolunteerToday.