Local Military News

Beaufort celebrates local Asian Americans

The Asian population might be small in Beaufort County, but its impact will be celebrated in style later this month.

The 2011 Tri-Command and Beaufort County Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month celebration will be held with dinner and a show May 20 at the Lyceum on Parris Island. The meal features cuisine and entertainment native of the Asian region.

The 2010 South Carolina Professor of the Year, University of South Carolina Beaufort's Juanita Babet Villena-Alvarez, is the keynote speaker.

The event will be on Parris Island -- home to the Marines Corps Recruit Depot -- but is open to both military personnel and civilians.

Although the Asian population only makes up about one percent of the U.S., according to census estimates, the celebration aims to showcase the culture's local and national influence.

"It's about sharing a culture," said celebration chairman Jong Gamboa. "It will be a celebration similar to what you might see in one of these countries that will be represented."

The celebration has previously been held on the base but faded in recent years. It's being revived and expanded this year to showcase cultures that range from Guam to Thailand, Tahiti to Japan, Gamboa said. Entertainment includes song, dance, a fashion show and a martial arts demonstration.

Similar to Black History Month, the concept for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month originated as a joint resolution from Congress in 1978. It started as a week honoring the history of immigrants from the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The week was expanded to a month in 1992.

May was selected for the heritage month to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to the United States who landed May 1943 and to honor the Chinese workers who laid track for the transcontinental railroad, which was completed in May 1869.