Asian-Pacific American cultural showcase educates, entertains
By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez, 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 03, 2008
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When was the last time you wore a kimono and ate bulgogi while listening to ballads sung in Tagalog? Do you know what these three things have in common?
The kimono, a traditional form of Japanese clothing; bulgogi, a popular Korean dish; and Tagalog, the language of the Philippine people, are all part of Asian culture.
Schriever personnel were treated to a festive learning experience at this year's Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage cultural showcase May 29 at the Building 300 auditorium.
"You can never learn too much about a different culture," said Capt. Earl Chang, executive officer of the 595th Operations Support Squadron and AAPI Heritage committee director. "We've got a slideshow going on for people to see that basically has the history of Asian Americans in this country and how we've contributed to the success of this country."
Whether it was the Chinese helping to build the railroads or the technological advances that come from Japan, these different cultures have influenced America, he said.
Attendees got to sample different foods including rice, Korean style ribs, vegetable sushi, and pork dumplings. Different displays adorned the auditorium including a traditional fan, a small bonsai tree, ceramic figurines and dishes--all comprised of the various Asian and Pacific Islander cultures.
One aspect of every culture that tends to break language barriers is music. Capt. Michael Sodusta of the 4th Space Operations Squadron entertained the crowd by performing acoustic renditions of songs from Asian recording artists, including a relatively unknown up and coming Korean musician.
"I think music plays a big role because it serves as an identity for cultures," Captain Sodusta said. "It plays a role in my culture because, when we get together for the food, we also get together for the community and a lot of times we have dances."
For Schriever Airmen who attended the event, many left with more than the free food and entertainment.
"It's quite refreshing that the Air Force has events like this where we can actually understand our fellow Airmen and the different cultures that we are comprised of," said Capt. Kevin Hall of the 50th Operations Support Squadron. "This heightens my awareness of all cultures aside from my own."
Captain Chang said he hopes that the event educates people about cultural awareness and the contributions made by the Asian and Pacific Islander cultures as well as diffusing the negative stereotypes and misconceptions often associated with these cultures.
"There are a lot of stereotypes, like 'all Asians are this or that, they're smart, or they know Karate,'" Captain Chang said. "There are so many countries in Asia, there's not just China and Japan--that's what a lot of people think. You've got Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar or Burma, Singapore, India, Pakistan and the Pacific Islands. That really encompasses the biggest region in the whole world."