Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month with Massi Faqiri
Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Massi Faqiri
Celebrating AAPI Month with Massi Faqiri
Interviewed by Sarah Sandoval Chambers, Corporate Communications Manager
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is a time of year when we get to celebrate, support, and embrace our AAPI team members and the community. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) are central to Velocity’s purpose and core values – and we are committed to these across all levels and areas of the company.
In honor of AAPI Month, our team member, Massi Faqiri, a Software Developer who joined Velocity in 2020, volunteered to share his story.
Tell me about yourself?
I am Massi Faqiri, born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. My native language is Persian (aka Dari). I spent my childhood in a chaotic environment, with the Taliban’s ruling and the U.S. invasion after 9/11. With the ousting of the Taliban, the Afghan people, including my family, were liberated. It was like a long nightmare came to an end, and a new chapter opened for the Afghan people.
Everyone revived and tapped into their potential to build a democratic country in sync with the modern world. So many doors of opportunity were now open. Probably, the most significant progress for this young country was having access to the internet. It catalyzed the flow of ideas among the people and enabled us to learn more about the other countries. That is how I learned more about the U.S. and other countries and grew obsessed with learning.
Then, “What you seek is seeking you,” a famous quote from Rumi, a Persian poet, I was fortunate to win a scholarship to study my high school at the UWC Adriatic International School in the small town of Duino, Italy. I had the honor and wonderful opportunity to meet students from 100+ countries. After completing high school, I received a scholarship to complete my 4-year bachelor’s degree in computer science and business management at Luther College in the small and beautiful town of Decorah, Iowa. I graduated in 2020 and was blessed and proud to land a Software Developer position at Velocity.
Can you tell me about one of your culture’s most important (or most celebrated) holidays/traditions?
Eid is the most important holiday in our culture, the equivalent of Christmas. It marks the end of Ramadan, one month of fasting celebrated by all Muslims worldwide. It consists of three days, in which we visit family and friends and exchange gifts and sweets. We are also encouraged to forgive and thank each other on this day. Kids love this holiday the most because they receive a lot of money from the adults.
Can you summarize what happened in Aug 2021 in Afghanistan for those who might not be aware? How did this impact you and your family?
August 2021 was the darkest month of my life. The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, and the Taliban took over. No one could believe it, yet it happened. It’s a month that will live in infamy for most Afghans and allies who were longing for a democratic Afghanistan not ruled by a terrorist group.
It was Sunday, August 15. I was sleeping and got woken up by a phone call from my family. They told me that the Taliban had taken over. As part of a generation that owed everything to the progress of the past 20 years, it was a big blow for me. Although I wanted to do nothing but grieve, I had to find a way to evacuate my family while being on top of my work and other responsibilities. After contacting multiple organizations and government officials, conducting multiple TV interviews, and sending hundreds of emails and messages, I finally evacuated them to Abu Dhabi Refugee Camp. It was very difficult for them to leave everything behind with only one backpack, yet that was the only option. We have crossed our fingers that they will join me here. We are just grateful that they are safe and are not living under the Taliban flag.
In terms of what it meant for Afghanistan, it was the worst thing that could have happened after 20 years of democracy, liberties, and progress. Taliban are a fanatic terrorist group and should not be ruling over any country. Since they have come in power, they have banned education for girls, prohibited women from working, tortured and killed hundreds of former allies, imprisoned countless journalists, banned music and other forms of entertainment, and much more. On top of that, the country is having one of its worst economic crises, and the National Resistance Front has started its guerrilla attacks in different parts of Afghanistan against the Taliban.
It’s so good to hear that you were able to help your family get to safety. After this experience, what do you hope for the future of Afghanistan?
I think the Afghan people have suffered more than enough. They deserve a government that is elected by its people. They deserve to live in a peaceful country where their rights and liberties are protected and not persecuted for belonging to a minority group or freedom of expression.
What do you wish others understood better about your culture or story?
Although I understand how people perceive Afghanistan, I wish they knew that it goes way beyond the news. It is a 5000-year-old country with a beautiful culture and people overshadowed by the war. It’s a country of minorities with more than 30 languages, more than ten ethnicities, and more than ten religions like Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Judaism. It has some of the most beautiful mountains and landscapes.
Even though the 4-decade war has exhausted the Afghan people, they have never stopped trying and hoping for a better tomorrow. Whenever I had a chance to visit home, I was impressed by their liveliness and hopefulness for a better future. My father and my siblings were all born in war. But we never let the war define us. The fact that I am here telling my story is living proof of that.
How can Velocity continue to be inclusive and/or raise awareness of AAPI Heritage?
One of my favorite things in Velocity is learning about different people through their stories. Velocity should continue to be a platform for team members to share. I believe storytelling is probably one of the best ways to connect and learn about each other.
Additionally, Velocity should continue to jump on any opportunity to celebrate the diversity of its community and be inclusive in any creative way possible. It will give everyone the chance to learn more about each other and experience the blessings of diversity.
Thank you, Massi, for sharing your touching story with us. We’re extremely proud of all our team members. We are dedicated to ensuring that Velocity is a place of inclusiveness and an environment where all our team members feel comfortable being themselves and supported.
Let’s continue celebrating, educating, and sharing the history of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Here are some resources to better acquaint yourself with organizations that support the AAPI community:
Afghan Refugee Relief, the mission of this organization is to help incoming Afghan refugees get resettled immediately in America.
SOA (Save Our Allies), the mission of Save Our Allies is to rescue and aid Americans and Allies in war-torn environments and resettle them in environments free of tyranny and terror.