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CAFB celebrates AAPI Heritage Month with observance

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Davis Donaldson
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss.-- The 14th Flying Training Wing celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, or AAPI, with an observance event on May 19, 2022, at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

The observance took place at the Columbus Event Center and featured multiple speakers with AAPI heritage, videos and food.

One of the guest speakers, Maj. Elizabeth Rainwater, 14th Communications Squadron, spoke about her heritage as an Asian American and some history for the observance.

“I have the honor of opening up the celebration and I want to share some of the research I have gathered in the last week about our Asian American and Pacific Islander history,” Rainwater said. “Essentially, we are one of the most diverse communities.”

Rainwater went into detail about AAPI’s diversity, stating there are ten eastern Asian countries, 14 southcentral Asian countries, ten southeastern Asian countries, 15 western Asian countries, seven Malaysian islands, nine Micronesian islands and 11 Polynesian countries. Moreover, she said there 20,000 to 30,000 islands across the Pacific.

After detailing AAPI’s diversity, Rainwater explained how the observance came to be.

“In 1968, the term ‘Asian American’ was coined…due to the high population of immigrants from Korea, Japan and China, due from the Cold War,” she said. “What about May? To mark the arrival of the first Japanese-immigrant in May, 1843. Finally, on May 1, 1990, President George H.W. Bush expanded the celebration from one week to a full month.”

After Rainwater’s speech, Dr. Andrew Pham, Mississippi University for Women Science and Mathematics professor, was the distinguished guest speaker for the event.

Pham said he is a native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and a child of two Vietnamese immigrants. After explaining a little bit about himself and his family, Pham told multiples stories about the hardships the AAPI community faces. He said a solution to some of the hardships is to have conversations about diversity.

“I know that this may feel like a very basic thing, being a part of difficult conversations,” he said. “We know that this should happen, but it’s not something that always occurs.”
Along with having difficult conversations, Pham says society needs more leaders concerned with diversity.

“I do believe that there needs to be very active leadership, trying to make sure all voices from minority groups are heard,” Pham said. “Collaboration and diversity make the workplace stronger.”

After Pham’s speech, the observance came to a close and guests were offered various types of food to eat, native to AAPI countries.

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