May 15, 2012 > Asian American Heritage Festival
Asian American Heritage Festival
By Mauricio Segura
The idea to begin an Asian Festival came to John Hsieh back in 1991 while attending an event at the White House. That day, President Bush signed a proclamation making May the official Asian American month in the United States. It was a milestone for the Asian community, and Hsieh, a Taiwanese immigrant, wanted to take this opportunity to create something in the Bay Area to promote Asian pride. Other cultures, Hispanic, Italian, and Greek, had periodic festivals and get-togethers, but there was really nothing happening in the Asian community. It took a few years, but in 1994, the first of what eventually became the annual Asian American Heritage Festival, began in the South Bay bringing together people of Japan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, China, India, and the Middle East.
Hsieh states, "Asian Americans have always played a key part in the development of the United States. From the boomtowns of the Western frontier to the plantations of Hawaii, to the rough streets of Manhattan, Asian Americans were instrumental in the construction and development of our cities and states. The culture of Asian Americans is deep and vast as it spans not only over time, but also to home countries and their respective cultures. Too often today, young Asian Americans have no real understanding of the breadth of achievement and length of history that lies behind their families and ancestors. In addition, other Americans are unaware of the unique traditions, music, and art that embody different Asian heritages. The Asian American Heritage Festival presents an opportunity for all Americans to celebrate and learn the wealth of ancient art, philosophy, craftsmanship, colorful literature and folklore that have sprung from these various cultures."
This Saturday, May 19, will mark the festival's 19th year of sharing and celebrating the Asian culture with people of all races and cultures throughout the Bay Area - the more diverse the company, the better. "Unity in Diversity" is this year's theme with the goal to create a peaceful and harmonized global society.
Over 2,000 people are expected to attend this six-hour event. And aside from meeting local Asian American leaders, businesspeople, and organizers, attendees will be treated to over 15 of the area's best Asian performers on the main stage. Food vendors will have taste buds on full alert, and artisans displaying and selling their crafts will abound. In between all of that, raffles will be held throughout the day offering top notch items that one has to see to believe. But overall, the festival provides the chance to learn and mingle with other cultures, and mutually enrich the colorful culture of their adopted United States.
Bring the entire family, rain or shine (the festival is held indoors), for the best in Asian food, performing arts, crafts, and more this side of the Pacific Rim.
Asian American Heritage Festival
Saturday, May 19
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church
32975 Alvarado Niles Road, Union City
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.: Opening Ceremony
12:30 p.m. - 1 p.m.: O'Nami Taiko / Dance
1 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.: Polynesian Dance
1:30 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.: Taiwanese Song / Dance
1:50 p.m. - 2:05 p.m.: Hula Dance
2:05 p.m. - 2:35 p.m.: Hawaiian Dance
2:35 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.: Indonesia Dance
2:50 p.m. - 3:05 p.m.: Indian Dance
3:05 p.m. - 3:20 p.m.: Thai Music/Dance
3:20 p.m. - 4 p.m.: Taiko
4 p.m. - 4:10 p.m.: Taichi Fan & Sword
4:10 p.m. - 4:25 p.m.: Filipino Dance
4:25 p.m. - 4:55 p.m.: Chinese Classic Dance
4:55 p.m. - 5:10 p.m.: Raffle