By Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson LeaderMay 19, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson Soldiers, civilians and family members came together at the Solomon Center Tuesday to celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
The event was hosted by the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, and included a lunch featuring Asian delicacies, a Tae Kwon Do demonstration and displays about Asian-Pacific culture and Asian-Pacific American heritage in the military. There was also a presentation by guest speaker Youko Brooks, a Tokyo native and senior instructor for Japanese language and culture with the University of South Carolina.
Brooks expounded on this year's theme - diversity, leadership, empowerment and beyond - and explained how Japanese culture embodies the theme.
She outlined the contrast between Japan and the United States, especially in terms of diversity and leadership.
"Japan, as a country, is very different from America, yet both countries can learn from each other and admire each other's unique characteristics," Brooks said.
The Japanese culture does not define "hard" leadership roles, she explained.
"In Japan, everyone is familiar with his or her responsibility for the society," she said. "Everyone works together to help each other, not because he or she is told to do so, but because of an inherent will to do so."
To demonstrate her point, Brooks showed photos of people waiting in line for drinking water after the natural disaster that hit Japan in March.
"I found ... stories posted after the recent earthquake and tsunami that illustrate how Japanese people look out for each other and help each other," she said. "I cry each time I read these stories, and I am glad that they are being told."
She said that despite the devastation caused by the disaster, she is certain that Japan will prevail.
"I'm sure that one day Japan will show the world that it is once again all right," she said. "The Japanese resiliency is best stated by this proverb: 'Nanakorobi yaoki;' seven times fall and eight times rise."
Chaplain (Col.) David Smartt, USACHCS commandant, said Brooks' presentation was helpful in understanding more about Japanese culture and people and how they cope in the aftermath of the earthquake. He encouraged the attendees to continue to learn about different cultures.
"I hope that this time together did give you a moment to reflect on a very important portion of who we are as a nation, the diversity that defines us - and certainly our Asian-Pacific American heritage is an important part of that," Smartt said.
May was designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in 1979 to commemorate the first documented immigration of Asians to the United States on May 7, 1842.