USA: NHB Commemorates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

NHB Commemorates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB), in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, celebrated a Multicultural Heritage Fair and Talent showcase entitled “A Family Gathering,” May 24.

“Our recent Med IG (Medical Inspector General) surveyors mentioned in the final analysis of our hospital that our Diversity Committee is the “best in class” and we’re so much better as a command because of all the things they do,” said Capt. Christopher Culp, NHB Commanding Officer.

The NHB CO left the podium ending his comments saying, “Mahalo nui loa” (Translation: Thank you very much in Hawaiian). Previously, Culp served as Deputy Commander for Tripler Army Medical Center and the Pacific Regional Medical Command in Honolulu from June 2006 through August 2008.

The celebration featured several staff members wearing clothing from Asian Pacific regions. Each person read a biography of a successful Asian/Pacific islander who has excelled to high ranks, officer and enlisted, in the United States Navy.

The traditional children’s Philippine song “Bahay Kubo,” a song about a small hut where plants and vegetables abundantly grow in abundance, was included in the ceremony. Event contributors later performed the famous Filipino “Tinkling Dance”.

“There are people at this command who aren’t from the Philippines or Guam and not of Asian Pacific heritage,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Vanessa Silva, NHB General Surgery Department and Diversity Committee Co-Chairman. “They are part of the celebration and the audience who acknowledge and embrace the diversity in the Navy. They make events like this so successful.”

A wide variety of authentic Asian and Pacific cultural dishes was available for sampling after the performance.

“I’m always celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage Month,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Ashbey Dominguez, Branch Health Clinic Bangor. “I eat Filipino food pretty much every day.”

Condo Manila, Philippine native, and Michelle Abutin, Directorate of Surgical Services Secretary, both prepared and served several of the dishes. Abutin is an active member of the Asian Pacific Heritage celebration in both the command and community. It is her love of cooking that keeps her ready for the next event.

“I’m happy everyone liked the food and I’ll be always there when we have events like this,” said Abutin. “It’s so nice to be able to get together and realize who we all are.”

Lt. Cmdr. Sanghee Park, NHB OB/GYN Department, moved from South Korea at age 11. She still has a connection in America’s Asian District areas and is still pulling for her second hometown teams.

“South Korea has a lot of National pride and I cheer for them whenever they’re on whatever the sport,” said Park. “And I like my American teams too.”

NHB Diversity Committee Chairman Hospital Corpsman Senior Chief Arne Marin observed that collateral duties are part of every command and being involved with the Diversity Committee is something everyone can take part in.

“This is one of the best collaterals available,” said Marin. “When people give such a strong effort to have something turn out great it’s usually better than what was expected. I think that was definitely the case here with our Asian Pacific Heritage event.”

The official 2013 Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month theme of “Building Leadership: Embracing Cultural Values and Inclusion” was released by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC). The FAPAC, founded in 1985, is a non-profit non-partisan organization that represents the civilian and military Asian Pacific employees in the Federal District of Columbia Governments.

The image of a lone bonsai tree on a hill in full bloom, designed by Robert Brown, 2013 picture artist, was aimed at generating patience, vision and understanding.

“In considering this year’s theme,” said Brown, “I realized the skills and dedication required to produce the masterful bonsai were equally reflected in building effective leadership, commitment and the ability to direct with compassion.”

Statistically, the total work force of the U.S. Navy includes 35,000 active and reserve personnel, and over 29,000 civilians of Asian and Pacific American heritage. There are approximately ten Flag Officers, nine members of the Senior Executive Service and 176 Master Chief Petty Officers.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Chinese immigrants were the majority of the workers who laid the tracks.

Press Release, May 29, 2013; Image: NHB