Department of Energy

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: 10 Questions for Arlene Fetizanan

May 31, 2019

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Arlene Fetizana is an international relations specialist within the Office of International Affairs.
Arlene Fetizanan is an international relations specialist within the Office of International Affairs.  

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! To celebrate, we’re highlighting a few of the people at the Energy Department who are helping to change the world.

1. What’s your job title and how long have you worked at the Energy Department?

My job title is international relations specialist within the Office of International Affairs. I’ve worked at different DOE program offices over four year.

2. What inspired you to work in your field?

Energy is our lifeblood. Without it we wouldn’t have all the technological advancements that make life comfortable and simpler. I am interested in all aspects of diversifying our energy sources so we can meet our needs. Other countries are urbanizing rapidly. Rural electrification and an increase in energy access are now enabling people in remote areas to participate in the global economy. This is great because people can experience upward economic mobility. This has inspired me to work internationally on energy issues.  

3. What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Representing the United States and DOE at bilateral or international dialogues. Many countries are very interested and impressed by DOE’s incredible work. I promote the ways we are leading in science and innovation, share U.S. experiences, and find mutual beneficial ways to work with each other. I meet with counterparts in other countries who are trying to solve similar energy issues, learn how they are approaching it, and identify common ground.

4. Do you have any words of advice for people looking to enter your field?

Take advantage of learning and networking opportunities. Attending foreign policy, national security, and energy discussions and programs organized by NGOs, think tanks, research organizations, the government, and embassies are great ways to accomplish both.

5. How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

I am humbled by my parents’ modest upbringings to living the American dream and the cultural values they have instilled in me. I am grateful for all of the sacrifices they made earlier in life, which in turn afforded me many personal development opportunities. These opportunities opened my eyes to the world and helped me become a well-rounded person. This is why it is important to me to give back to others and not take things for granted.  

6. Does your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?

I cherish my family reunions. Everyone looks forward to catching up over one weekend in the summer every few years. It’s serious business! A host committee organizes a fun weekend filled with a welcome party, dinner dance, talent program, picnic, and sightseeing excursions. The reunions have grown in size to the point where we need to consult a family tree to figure out our ancestral connections to each other. It’s really important to us that the younger generation have a good time so the memories they make will encourage them to keep up what has been a tradition for over 35 years.

7. What are some interesting hobbies or talents that most people may not know about you?

Hobbies include checking off UNESCO World Heritage Sites, presidential libraries, state capitals, and major league baseball stadiums I’ve visited. On the horizon, I’d like to map out how I can revisit Austin, hit three presidential libraries and two major league baseball stadiums in Texas in one trip.      

8. What’s your favorite book or podcast?

DOE’s podcast Direct Current of course!

9. Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?

It’s hard to choose one I admire, so I’ll highlight one example. The people behind the scenes of historic milestones are sometimes easily overlooked. The African American female mathematicians whom the book and movie “Hidden Figures” are based on are incredible. They were educated smart women working in a STEM field with few women, let alone minorities. On top of this, they juggled the traditional expectations of maintaining the family household. They faced gender and racial discrimination, but did not let it stop them from excelling in their work. Space exploration was still new, and they worked on many of the early missions. Their work contributed to this historic era in American innovation.

10. What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

It’s a time to celebrate our roots and the diversity within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, share the contributions of AAPIs in the United States with others, and raise awareness of causes impacting the AAPI community. It’s an opportunity to bridge understanding and appreciation of different cultures.  

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
The Energy Department celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
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