By Capt. Austin Liu, 6-52nd Air Defense Artillery, 35th ADA Brigade Public AffairsJune 1, 2011
SUWON AIR BASE, South Korea - Through dances, games, food and a genuine Samoan luau, Soldiers and leaders from the 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Battalion celebrated Asian Pacific Heritage Month this week with creativity and enthusiasm, not to mention satisfied appetites.
The celebration attracted hundreds of Soldiers and families, as well as distinguished local nationals from People-to-People International and the Korean American Friendship Alliance, as they gathered in front of the Suwon Community Activity Center to enjoy an afternoon filled with fun and culture.
According to Spc. Pavela Fiaui, the primary organizer of the celebration, the intent behind the celebration is “to showcase the richness and uniqueness of the Asian and Pacific culture to the Soldiers and families of the Iron Horse Battalion.”
Indeed, the culture of Korea, Samoa, Philippine, Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii, just to name a few, were vividly and faithfully portrayed through sight, sound, and taste, as the volunteers eagerly interacted with their audiences.
“What I really love about this event is that it is completely run by Soldier volunteers who love their cultural background so much that they cannot wait to share it with the rest of the world,” said Fiaui, who is of Samoan descent, “And you can tell their passion just by looking at them [and their performances].”
The highlight of the celebration was the cultural dance showcase during which Soldiers with painted faces and grass skirts demonstrated several traditional dance style from Asia and Pacific.
“I think we have successfully raised the cultural awareness of the public this afternoon by introducing the Soldiers to a few traditional dance art forms and they have never seen before in their lives,” Fiaui added.
The crowd went wild during the light and entertaining Fiji Warrior Dance as the dancers enthusiastically tell a tale of war through their body movements and vocal projection.
In addition to the unique dances, Soldiers also tasted ethnic food, such as a kimchi pancake, Tahitian drinks and two Samoan-style roasted pigs.
“This is a great event commemorating the Asian Pacific Heritage Month,” said Lt. Col. William Darne, commander of 6-52nd Air Defense Artillery Battalion, said during the closing remarks. “Once again, the Iron Horse Soldiers never cease to amaze me.”