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Blending of cultures plays vital role in Honda's innovation

May is Asian American Pacific Islander month and 10TV is focusing on the contributions the AAPI community and their contributions to central Ohio.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played vital roles in shaping the nation — from building the Transcontinental Railroad to advocating for labor law changes to fighting in multiple wars. They made these contributions while also facing persistent discrimination and violence throughout United States history.

10TV is highlighting those in the AAPI community who are making central Ohio a better place to live, work and play.

The AAPI umbrella term includes cultures from the entire Asian continent—including East, Southeast and South Asia—and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

As of the 2020 U.S. Census, there were about 20.6 million people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the U.S.

According to the Pew Research Center, AAPI people are a diverse and growing population that make up about 7% of the total U.S. population.

In Marysville, the Honda plant is producing more than cars.

It’s also building a culture where Japanese engineering combined with American muscle produces some of the most popular cars on the road.

Forty years after the first Honda Accord drove off the assembly line, Honda remains at the forefront of automakers who never stops innovating, and that begins blending a mixture of cultures that work together.

Katsuyo (Katie) Raymond has worked in Honda’s IT department for 28 years.

She said she came to Ohio as an exchange student and landed in Morrow County.

“It was a lot of cultural shock obviously, but what I learned was people are just so warm, so helpful. My English was not that great so that motivated me even more to study English,” she said.

That welcoming Ohio spirit convinced her to leave her hometown of Shiga, Japan and attend college in Ohio.

That’s a journey that is more than 6,000 miles from her home. But she said her decision to leave, was encouraged by her mother and grandmother.

“It wasn't exactly traditional Japanese culture like, hey I want to go to the U.S. to live there. They were very supportive."

Raymond said by combining her Japanese culture with her co-workers sparks innovation as they each look at a problem somewhat differently and come to a solution they may not have arrived at if they were working alone.

Amol Govindwar is a native of India and another member of the Honda IT team.

He grew up near Bombay and later went to school to become a mechanical engineer.

He believes sharing cultural ideas is important not just personally but professionally.

“We get to know different people through the understanding of their culture,” he said.

He said it was on his first day on the job at Honda, that he realized the importance of culture from his boss.

“He referenced the word from the constitution, 'e pluribis unum, ' out of many comes one. How do we take the uniqueness of each other and still work with others,” he said.

Blending cultures and different viewpoints have helped Honda become one of the nation's leaders in innovation.

The company is partnering with LG Energy Solutions on a $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant near Jeffersonville, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024.

Innovation, that would not be possible without a multicultural workforce.

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