Day Three: APA Recap
The Festival's Participant Coordinator, Sandi Tun, is also a highly regarded leader in the Burmese American cultural community. Thanks to her contacts, the Festival was able to fill three of the four stages today with Burmese American culture. Mya Mya Myaing cooked savory beef, chicken, and goat dishes at the Tea House, and Burmese American dancers filled the Asian Fusions tent. Late in the day, Burma Restaurant owner and chef John TinPe shared his secret recipe for green papaya salad. Meanwhile, the chinlone Burmese cane-ball sport was played for many hours on the grass between the entryway and the Talkstory tent, and Mya Mya joins us tomorrow in her role as a leader in FAPAC (the Federal Asian Pacific American Council) when the Talkstory stage discussion focuses on "APAs in the Federal Workforce" (June 27th, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.)
Other highlights on June 26th included dance and music from China (Alice GuZheng Ensemble), Japan (Washington Toho Koto Society), and India (Kaur Foundation), Japanese calligraphy, and a deeply personal Japanese American history mural from artist HIRO (in photo above), and chefs creating food from North Indian (Punjabi), Japanese, and South Asian traditions. Talkstory participants discussed the many ways immigrants have come to this country, how they move to the suburbs, and how they have set up several national organizations. Smithsonian Wider Audience Development founder Marshall Wong was on hand to discuss the early days of APAs at the Smithsonian, and he was joined by Smithsonian APA Program founding director Franklin Odo, current Acting Director Konrad Ng, and current staff member Noriko Sanefuji.
At the panel on how APAs help their homelands through business, intellectual property lawyer Hung Bui discussed how he stays current in a demanding legal field while still giving back to his community through volunteering at community service organizations. Parichad "Cherry" Kwunyeun described how she uses traditional Thai patterns in her high-fashion handbags, sells them through her Blumpari company, and shares the proceeds with the rural Thai women who helped her with the fabrics and design ideas. Best of all, while discussing details of business transactions, she was holding up her colorful bloom-inspired handbags for all to enjoy.
Phil Tajitsu Nash is the curator of the Asian Pacific Americans program at the 2010 Folklife Festival.