BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and to kick the month off multiple groups organized the Jess Nieto Memorial Conference Friday to spotlight a leader in the community, Bakersfield college professor Janaki Parikh.

Parikh spoke about her experience as a South Asian in Kern County and highlighted the importance of the ethnic group which Parikh said is a big part of Kern’s most valued industries.

“They brought with them expertise with them from India in terms of irrigation and agriculture and what not and have been very integral to sort of forming the farming industry as we know it within the Central Valley,” said Parikh.

Parikh said that even while being a big part of those industries, Asian communities endured many struggles particularly with discrimination.

“There was a lot of discrimination, there were a lot of adjustments that individuals had to face, and obstacles to overcome but the community did overcome those obstacles and has continued to grow and has continued to develop and flourish in the area,” said Parikh.

However, Filipino National Historical Society’s Alex Edillor, said months like this highlight the importance of all Asian communities in light of the struggles of the past.

“I think we’re a part of the fabric that makes America great,” Edillor said.

“I think there’s a lot more awareness about Asian communities and what they’ve brought to the community I mean you can be shallow and say well they’ve got great food it isn’t that it isn’t that it’s the caring and giving people.”

For more information about AAPI events this month go here or here.