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Jeannie Ong, PharmD, Shares How Her Culture Shapes Her Identity

Celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage (AANHPI) Month by reading Lehigh Valley Health Network colleague stories

Jeannie Ong, PharmD

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage (AANHPI) Month. This month, we recognize colleagues by sharing their stories.

Jeannie Ong, PharmD, HIV Clinical Pharmacist, Comprehensive Health Services, Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–17th Street, is proud of her Asian heritage.


What are some of the most memorable moments when you felt included and welcomed at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN)?

For me, a memorable moment of inclusion happened during a patient interaction. While I was meeting with him, he asked me for my ethnicity. When I told him I was Chinese, he told me that I needed to marry someone from Puerto Rico, which I took as warm sign of acceptance. With one short interaction, I immediately knew I would be welcomed at LVHN and in this area.

“With one short interaction, I immediately knew I would be welcomed at Lehigh Valley Health Network and in this area.”

What is one of the most common misunderstandings or assumptions people make about your racial/ethnic heritage or identity?

A common misunderstanding I’ve encountered is that people assume I’m a certain Asian identity that is not Chinese or Vietnamese. They blindly guess that I am Filipina, Japanese or Korean. In those awkward situations where people assume I was Korean or Japanese, I have to choose between correcting them or ignoring them. I have also been asked where I am “really” from when I say I am from California. At that time, I explain that my parents were born in Vietnam and my grandparents are Chinese.

What food makes you think of your family/heritage and why?

Teochew (also called Teochiu, Chiuchow, or Diojiu; 潮州) noodles remind me of my family because my family and I are Teochew. Teochew is both considered a Chinese dialect and an identity that is part of the greater Chinese diaspora. Originating from the Southeast region of China in the Guangdong province, Teochew speakers can be found throughout Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as Australia and the U.S. I was born in the U.S., and my parents were both born in Vietnam, but we are Teochew Chinese Americans. As much as I love phở, phở is Vietnamese.


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