Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Celebrating Asian American Heritage

May is American-Pacific American Heritage Month, and to celebrate, I attended the 32nd Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival at Union Square on Mother’s Day. It was organized in New York by the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA), who amassed an eclectic representation of the many Asian cultures found in the city.

The theme of the day focused on the journeys our ancestors took from all corners of Asia and the Pacific to have successful lives in America. They became Americans, but they never let go of the rich cultural traditions of their native lands.


Of course, a huge attraction at any festival is food, and there was no shortage of that here.

Here is a line for okonomiyaki, a popular Japanese comfort food. It’s usually described as a Japanese pizza or savory pancake.

The style of okonomiyaki being cooked here is from Hiroshima and contains soba noodles.

Popular West Village eatery Hakata Ton Ton serves up “Shake Salad Ramen.”

Umi no Ie, a restaurant in the East Village, sold food as well.

There was even a yard sale to raise money for Japan relief.

In addition to cultural performances and cuisine, many political and civic groups were represented, including three I found particularly interesting:

       Asian American Arts Alliance – A service organization dedicated to providing a community and resources to Asian American artists

       Asian American Journalists Association – A non-profit educational organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander journalists

       Japanese American Citizens League – An advocacy group that fights discrimination against people with Japanese ancestry, provides education about the Japanese American experience, and preserves the cultural heritage of Japanese Americans

I joined all three groups within days of the festival, and I look forward to contributing to each.

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