Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
TORII STATION, Okinawa -- For those of us located in the Pacific Theater, Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month has particular significance as we witness examples of the 2013 theme, "Building Leadership: Embracing Cultural Values and Inclusion" which speaks volumes about their commitment to the United States and the U.S. Army.
For Sgt. Faafetia Taliulu, human resource specialist, 10th Regional Support Group, Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month holds significant meaning.
"I was born and raised in the village of Faga'alu," Taliulu said. "American Samoa is about 2,300 miles south of Hawaii. I wasn't interested in self-improvement and was content with being at home not paying rent, but my parents 'highly influenced' me to join the military. One thing I love about the U.S. Army is the people. I've came across so many different people, cultures and personalities and I've made some really good friends along the way."
Living and working in Japan has enhanced his appreciation for family and friends as they join together in celebration of their heritage and the traditions, Taliulu said.
"The food, when I was stationed in Fort Riley ... the Samoan community was much larger than it is in Okinawa," explained Taliulu. "I remember the males prepping the food the night prior and the females would prep the desserts. These were traditional Samoan dishes such as Fa'alifu Fa'i, Oka, Palusami, and Panipopo. I don't know many other Samoans on this island, but I do have many friends who are from the Pacific. Family is big in Samoan culture and I try to surround myself around positive and dynamic people. We'd get together and talk about how similar things are between different families and how similar Okinawa is to other islands in the Pacific."
Taliulu was born in American Samoa in 1989 and is the second oldest of eight siblings. He is married to his wife, Bianca, and will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in October.
Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month gives us all the opportunity to interact with our Asian Pacific neighbors, as well as enjoy the beauty of the countries in which we are so fortunate to work and live. Please encourage others to take advantage of this month to learn more about the history and extraordinary contributions of Asian-Pacific Americans.