Pulling Together

TVA promotes Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at Chattanooga Dragon Boat Festival for Children’s Hospital.

MAY 30, 2017—At TVA, Diversity and Inclusion is exemplified day after day. And in the month of May, D+I shines a spotlight on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In addition to volunteer activities, lunch and learns, and networking socials, one special event ties back to Asian history and is celebrated each year: the Chattanooga Children’s Hospital Dragon Boat Festival.

dragon boat

Dragon boat racing has a rich history of ancient ceremonial and ritualistic traditions, which originated in southern central China more than 2,500 years ago. Today, the Annual Children’s Hospital Dragon Boat Festival showcases competitive community and corporate teams racing in authentic 46-foot dragon boats.

“TVA is in its fifth year participating in this event, and for the past two years the Generation Construction group has sponsored the boat,” says Sheril Varghese, champion of the ACTion Employee Resource Group. Teams of 20 paddlers, a drummer, and a steerer work in unison, winding down the Tennessee River.

“I think TVA having a presence at this event reminds people that we are a part of the community and that diversity is important to us,” Varghese says. “It also reinforces that it is because of TVA, its dams and work with the Tennessee River System that we are able to have events like this in Chattanooga.”

For Varghese, it’s not just diversity that is important—it’s diversity AND inclusion. “I hope that as the ACTion Champion I can help tear down stereotypes and promote the empowerment of each other to be agents of change,” she continues. “People tend to dismiss things they don’t understand, and I think that once people understand Asian culture and how the environment we were raised in shapes who we are and why we do things the way we do, our differences will not be things that hinder us, but rather add value.”