Honoring service by celebrating culture
Tech. Sgt. April Robinson
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Committee
Kadena Air Base, Okinawa
Q: Tell us about your organization.
A: The committee has about 30 or so members and we are currently hosting events to culturally educate the Kadena populace. An Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Luncheon will be held at Rocker NCO Club at Kandena from 11:30 a.m. May 30. Traditional Okinawa “sanshin” (banjo) live music and Hula dance will be performed during the luncheon. I hope that everyone come out and recognize the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Q: What does Asian Pacific American Heritage Month mean to you?
A: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is important because it is vital to remember the contributions of a community that helped shaped our nation. From 170 years ago when Japanese immigrants landed on American soil, leading the way for others to the Chinese workers that laid the final ties of the transcontinental railroad after years of strenuous labor, Asian Pacific Americans have assisted in making the United States of American the great country it is today. Today, Asian Pacific Americans make up approximately 5 percent of the US Air Force. To quote President Obama, “Their story is the American story, and this month, we honor them all.”
Master Sgt. Rica P. Taylor
Co-Point of contact
Asian-American Pacific Islander Committee
Osan Air Base, South Korea
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – American Samoa (Korea)
Q: Tell us about your organization.
A: We formed our committed in April to help plan the observance of (Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month) with the guidance and help from the 51 FW/EEO office. Master Sgt. Mark Washington and myself are the lead POCs for this year’s observance.
We sent out a call for volunteers to be part of the committee to help us plan the observance of the month. Our first meeting had a great turn out and we had over 30 volunteers from different units and all ranks.
Our committee has members from different backgrounds: Cambodia, Philippines, Hawaii, Samoa, Thailand, Korea, Tonga, Guam, Vietnam – the list goes on. We also have members that are not from the Asian-Pacific region but are eager to help out and be part of the team. Overall, our committee is a motivated group and has planned great events to celebrate this month.
Our main purpose is to educate and provide awareness to the Osan community about the month. This year’s theme is “Building Leadership, Embracing Cultural Values and Inclusion.”
Q:What does Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month mean to you?
A: This month means a lot to me because it shows appreciation to the contributions the Asian American and Pacific Islanders have to the U.S. society and the military. It is also an opportunity for us to show and educate the public about our cultures and ways of life.
We have many Asian American and Pacific Islanders serving our country and that’s what makes the United States unique because it’s diverse but yet we all fight for the same cause: Freedom and protection of our great nation.
I myself am a Pacific Islander from American Samoa. What’s special about my culture is the respect and love we show to anyone even if they’re not Samoan. We open our arms, homes, heart to strangers and treat them like our own. Our people are very proud and friendly. We honor our ancestors, respect our elders, and value our families and friends.
Mariana Islands Association
Yokota Air Base, Japan
Q: Tell us about your organization?
A: We are a private organization that brings together those individuals interested in activities designed to promote good community relations, to engage in worthwhile and charitable projects and to provide recreation and entertainment for the members. Currently we have 17 military members, 14 DOD civilian employees and their dependents.
Our goal is to encourage interest in promoting and promulgating the Chamorro heritage and culture in the community by actively participating in events such as the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and other official events and fundraisers in Yokota. In addition, we strive to enhance and promote good working relationships with our Japanese counterparts.
Our group is always proud to support and participate in Asian-Pacific Heritage Month at Yokota. Two of our members, Nickie Manibusan and Tech Sgt. Cybél Luna have been heading up many of the activities from the get go. They are coordinating an Asian-Pacific themed meal at the 374th Medical Group Dining Facility as well as dance performances throughout the base.
Q: What does Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month mean to you?
A: It’s an opportunity for MIA and other groups to represent. We get to showcase and demonstrate many of the beautiful cultural differences we were born into, and recognize and celebrate the impacts and achievements brought to America by the Asians and Pacific Islanders.
I encourage you all to come out to celebrate with us during the “Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month” events on the base this month. It’s a great way to meet new people and learn about new cultures. We will be having a great time dancing and eating delicious food!
Petty Officer 1st Class Christene Cheung
Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan
Q: Tell us about your organization.
A: I teach the people, who are my Ohana (family), the basics to advance movements of Tahitian (dance). We (15 members) have been dancing together for a very long time, but (in our former group named) Otea Kia Mana. Since our “kumu” (teacher) went back to Hawaii, I wanted to continue to dance with my Ohana, so, I decided to have a group. We have been dancing together for a few months now, but we haven’t performed yet. The group consists of a few dependents, Japanese locals, “keikis” (children), and just some civilians. We enjoy dancing together to continue to learn more and more about the culture of the Polynesian Islands.
Q: What does Asian-Pacific Islanders American Heritage Month mean to you?
A: It’s a time to celebrate and be thankful for the cultural and ethnic diversity in America. During this month, we can recognize each of the different Asian subcultures (Samoan, Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, etc.) for their individuality, while uniting all Asian-Pacific Islander Americans as well. It is a time where we can reflect on history and appreciate the hardship many Asians and Pacific Islanders had to overcome to bring their generations to America to fulfill their dreams.
If you see me walking around, you definitely see me with a “tiare,” “plumeria,” or any type of Polynesian flower in my hair! I was born and raised in Hawaii, but being a Filipina, I have to also respect my ethnicity by continuing to praise the culture and to never forget the family values I was taught when growing up.
I believe we, as Asian-Pacific Islander Americans, we take pride in our roots. I also believe great answers come from everywhere. Like what we say in the islands: You can take the girl from the island, but not the island from the girl! Mahalo and Salamat Po!