Asian Festival Celebrates Diversity of Culture, Unity of Community

Asian Festival Celebrates Diversity of Culture, Unity of Community

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 6, 2018)

Madison Heights, MI- Simply publishing a list of the organizations that participated in Saturday’s Asian Festival in Madison Heights would show the rich diversity that exists within the Asian American community. And yet, it would also barely scratch the surface.

Jacqueline Dinh of the Vietnamese American Association of Michigan said “Every culture has their own unique ways and lifestyles. Vietnamese are proud of our moral values. We stand as one and we stand for freedom.”

The VAAM hosts a health fair each year as well as a celebration of the Vietnamese New Year. They also host meetings with speakers, and programs to teach young people the language and culture.  “For younger people who are born here, they may not have exposure to the Vietnamese culture.  But it is where they came from, so it’s important to them,” said Vice President Marie Huynh.  “They really embrace it.”

The Council of Asian Pacific Americans organized the event, which included dozens of  organizations and vendors, and attracted thousands of visitors. Many communities come together through this organization, including those of Japanese heritage.  One current project is raising money to send to Japan to help the recovery effort after Heisei san-jū-nen shichi-gatsu gōu, the “heavy rain of July” that devastated the western part of the country. A dozen people remain missing and at least 219 died from the flooding and landslides.

“I think we need to help our sisters in this disaster,” said Akiko Cox who is one of the many volunteers making paper cranes to sell for the fundraising effort. Cox and the others at the CAPA booth said they’d been doing origami since they were children.  “It is standard education for Japanese people,” she said.

CAPA is set up to help however is needed, including with community service, events, leadership training, and scholarships for youth.

Another group with a focus on service is the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Detroit Service Center.  Tzu Chi means Compassion and Relief, and that is this international organization’s focus.  In Michigan they most recently helped people in Isabella and Midland Counties by working with the American Red Cross after flooding damaged homes, businesses and infrastructure on June 24.  Over 3,000 families were impacted and 90 roads were closed. Once the roads were re-opened the group was able to host an event and give cash cards to 72 of those families.

David Chen, Volunteer Director for Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Detroit, said that volunteers spend their own money for mission trips; that it does not come out of fundraising.  “That way more money goes to the people who need help,” he said.  When asked why supporting others in times of crisis is so important, Chen said “People help people, that’s why the world is beautiful.”

In addition to the beautiful hearts on display, the event featured the costumes, dance and food of many Asian traditions.  From Korean Pop dancers, to Chinese ballet, to martial arts, to Polynesian dancing and hula hoops, the talent that took the stage enchanted the audience through the day.

Swati Sinha and her three business partners had a booth to showcase the delicious Indian food from Midway, a catering company located in Troy.  “We love to come to events to meet new customers, and we are always learning how we can improve,” Sinha said. People loved the samosa and masala at their booth, as well as the variety of cuisines from other vendors.

This was the first year that the Asian Festival was hosted in Madison Heights.  Mayor Brian Hartwell and a slew of regional elected officials were on hand to enjoy the celebration.  “There are over 200 Asian-owned businesses here in Madison Heights, so it’s fitting that we welcome the Asian Festival,” Mayor Hartwell said.

Other groups included the Council of Philippine Organizations, Association of Chinese Americans, US Pinoys for Good Governance, Korean American Community of Metro Detroit, National Federation of Filipino American Associations, and the General Consulate of Japan.

For other fun and educational events, check out the Oakland County Times Event Page.

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