SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
The old adage goes, “You can't know where you're going until you know where you've been.”
Senior Airman Alyssa Flores, Bioenvironmental Engineering technician, takes this to heart as a leader of the Asian and Pacific Islander cultural booth during the Diversity Day event Aug. 26 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.
One of Flores’ goals is to inform attendees about Asian and Pacific Islander culture as well as American-Asian partnerships - especially in the military. She hopes to cast new light on those relations, as well as remind and educate people about the ways Asian nations and Asian-Americans have partnered with the U.S. military in the past.
“We do want to remind people about (Asian) connections with the U.S. Air Force and military because not a lot of people may know about Asian-American military history. For some, the first thought that may come to mind is the Vietnam War or enemy engagements,” said Flores.
Flores, of Filipino descent, shared her decision to help lead the cultural booth is due to a tie closer to home - her grandfather.
Flores’ grandfather served in the Philippine military during the Bataan Death March in World War II. He was one of approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops who were forced to march 65 miles to Japanese prison camps. Starvation, lack of heat and harsh treatment caused thousands of the service members to perish.
“He survived, but the reason why was because when he got shot in his leg, one of his (fellow soldiers) pulled him out and brought him to the medics,” said Flores. “I’m looking forward to almost bragging about how my grandpa was serving alongside U.S. military during that time. He passed away five years ago, and I feel like this is a way for me to do this in remembrance for him.”
Flores also plans on briefly teaching about the 100th Infantry Battalion, Chinese-American Composite Wing, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments.
In addition to the informational booth, attendees may look forward to sampling a taste of Asian culture. Some of the fare will include traditional Filipino cuisine including lumpia and pancit, along with Japanese sushi and Korean barbecue.
Flores said there will also be representatives from Taekwondo, the Korean martial art.
The purpose of Diversity Day is to invite Schriever personnel and their families to engage and learn about different cultures, creating respect and understanding. According to a 2014 demographics report from www.militaryonesource.mil, approximately four percent of the U.S. military comprises personnel of Asian descent.
Capt. Brinetta Hence, Diversity Day organizer, believes if attendees can learn about cultures, and break down cultural barriers, community will strengthen and the mission will benefit.
“We all wear the same uniform, but we all have different ways of thinking and a big part of that comes from our cultural background. This ties into the mission when it comes to learning about different perspectives. Our mission includes a business side and within business, we must maintain a cultural understanding that includes learning how to embrace different ways of thinking, dealing with different customs and beliefs and many other capabilities,” said Hence.
To volunteer to help out with the Asian and Pacific Islander cultural booth, contact Flores at 567-XXXX.