25th ID celebrates Asian-Pacific culture

| May 27, 2011 | 0 Comments
Soldiers from USD-Center perform during a celebration in honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, at Camp Liberty, Iraq, May 20. (Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy | 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Soldiers from USD-Center perform during a celebration in honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, at Camp Liberty, Iraq, May 20. (Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy | 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Sgt. Jennifer Sardam
29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Downrange events underscore significance of traditional dances and other prominent aspects of Asian-Pacific Islanders’ culture 

BAGHDAD — Service members from throughout U.S. Division-Center recently commemorated Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month at Camp Liberty, here, with a guest speaker and a performance with a variety of cultural dances.

“We really want to educate on some of the things that have happened in the culture,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marliser Fergerson, advisor, Equal Opportunity, 25th Infantry Division, and the primary organizer of the event.

“It’s (Asian and Pacific Islanders’) time to be highlighted on what they have done … and still continue to do,” she said.

“If one person that shows up to this observance learns something about this culture — maybe why they dance the way they do, or why they speak the way they do — it will give them a totally different outlook on them, on the culture (and) on life,” she said.

The event encompassed a number of Asian and Pacific Islander dance styles, from a war dance of the Maori tribesmen of New Zealand to a traditional Saipan dance, where women welcomed home men returning from battle.

“In our (Samoan) culture, you may not understand what the song may be, because it may be in a native language or whatever, but our hands and our eyes tell the story,” said Cpl. Theresa Faoa, promotions noncommissioned officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th ID.

The various forms of dance seen on stage, here, originated in lands far removed from the desert environment of Iraq, but to some service members, the scenes were familiar and delivered a touch of home.

Many 25th ID Soldiers recognized a mix of the same cultural influences found in Hawaii, where nuances of Tahitian, Japanese, Samoan, Fijian and other cultures can be found.

“For us (in the 25th ID), that’s home,” Fergerson said. “When we leave here, that’s where we go back to, and that’s home. That’s where our families are.”

Sgt. Mose Matautia, Headquarters Support Company, HHBN, 25th ID, was honored to showcase some of his own cultural roots through dances like the Faataupati, a traditional Samoan men’s dance also known as the “slap dance.”

“I take pride in where I come from, and I want to show everybody else where we come from, how we live (and) our culture,” he said.

“Understanding those differences is important,” Matautia said. “I think that’s the main reason why I wanted to partake in the event.”

Although the event centered on recognizing significant achievements of people with Asian or Pacific Island descent, it was an exercise in teamwork that benefited all.

“You see different races; you see Hispanic … and you see African-Americans up there, so it’s not just about being an Asian-Pacific Islander,” Faoa said. “It’s just coming together as a group, and through our diversity, we’re able to just mesh as one.

“That’s how the military is, period,” she said. “You see that on the stage, but then, we also see that in uniform, too.”

 

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Category: Deployed Forces, News, Observances

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