Celebrating diversity: Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month to kick off
Han Lee, of Enterprise Elementary School, performs the song, "I'm Yours," by Jason Mraz as he plays the ukulele at last year's Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month kickoff event. This year's kickoff is May 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the post exc... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 30, 2015) -- Attendees can travel across the world without leaving the state during the Asian-Pacific American Heritage month kickoff event from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. May 1 at the post exchange.

The month aims to celebrate the cultural traditions, ancestry, native languages, and unique experiences represented among more than 56 ethnic groups from Asia and the Pacific Islands, said Sgt. 1st Class David Hedgepeth, 110 Aviation Brigade Equal Opportunity adviser, adding that he is working tirelessly to find representation for as many ethnic groups as possible.

According to Hedgepeth, the event features samples of many ethnic groups and cultural traditions.

"The kickoff event is a great opportunity to experience new food and cultural traditions," he said. "It is perfect for anyone who has never been to Asia or tasted kimchi."

About 20 youth from the Dothan Martial Arts Academy will present a taekwondo display in front of the post exchange. Attendees can view artwork from the South Korean Art Group, Chinese calligraphy, paper cutting art and sample numerous foods from all across Asia and the Pacific.

"This month and these events provide education to the community," Hedgepeth said. "We hope to educate the community on the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. There will be displays set up at the kickoff event highlighting different Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who've made an impact on our culture throughout history."

According to Hedgepeth, the kickoff event is a perfect opportunity for the community to honor Asian-Pacific American heritage and possibly discover something new.

"Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are part of our community and it is important we honor their heritage," he said. "There is a large Korean community in Daleville who are helping make our kickoff event better."

The kickoff event is the first of many events planned for May, according to Hedgepeth.

"We have several events planned in May to honor Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," he said. "The goal was to have something planned for each week."

The next event will be an origami class and book reading May 8 from 10-11 a.m. at the Center Library.

Government I.D. card holders and their families are invited to attend a free tour of the Confucius Institute of Troy University May 15. The bus departs from the U.S. Army Aviation Museum at 9 a.m. and returns at about 3:30 p.m. Attendees only need money for lunch. Registration opens May 1 and the deadline to register is May 12. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 255-2669.

There will also be a luau May 21 at Yano Hall. It will be the first time a heritage month event has been held at Yano Hall, according to Hedgepeth.

"Normally a luncheon is held at The Landing," he said. "But I wanted to do something free of charge and open to the community. It will be a taste-testing event, but we will have a lot of food."

Hedgepeth said the plan is to roast a pig in honor of Pacific Islander tradition and keep a luau-type theme for the event. However, a wide variety of food samples will be available. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about upcoming heritage events or Asian-Pacific American Heritage month, call 255-2669.

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Fort Rucker, Ala.

U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence