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May 17, 2011 > Asian American Heritage Festival

Asian American Heritage Festival

By Mauricio Segura

The Asian American community was awarded a great honor in 1991 when President Bush signed a proclamation making May the official Asian American Heritage month in the U.S. Bay Area resident John Hsieh was in attendance that day, and upon his return, set out to organize a celebration throughout the local, and growing, Asian community.

Reaching out to his native Taiwanese compatriots, Hsieh organized a small cultural festival in the South Bay and as the years passed, not only did the festival grow, but also gained representation from Japan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, China, India and the Middle East.

In the last 17 years, the festival has been held in various South and East Bay cities, and as Hsieh points out, "[The festival] has become a great way for all ethnic communities to learn from each other. Both U.S. and Asian residents are able to combine cultures resulting in awareness and unity with one another."

This year, 14 Asian ethnic groups will celebrate the 18th Annual Asian American Heritage Festival at the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church in Union City on Saturday, May 21 from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; admission is free. The day's activities include performances and demonstrations, raffles, a silent auction, and plenty of food vendors cooking up the best cuisine from all corners of the Asian world.

Opening ceremonies will begin with a flag presentation by 20 local Boy Scouts; Scott Kitajima will perform the nation anthem, and Hsieh will deliver the opening welcoming message. A special prayer will be said for the country and people of Japan, followed by special recognition awards and short speeches from local political and community leaders. The rest of the day will be filled with a celebration of culture including featured performances of O'nami Taiko of Japan, Hawaiian Hula, Middle Eastern Belly Dancing, Hindu dancing, and much more.

"No worries about the weather," says Hsieh, "the event is held indoors. So rain or shine, the show will go on!" He added, "This is the place to be!"

Asian American Heritage Festival
Saturday, May 21
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church
32975 Alvarado Niles Road, Union City
(510) 784-7341

Program Schedule:

11:30 a.m. - Opening Ceremony
12:30 p.m. - O'nami Taiko / Dance
1:05 p.m. - Polynesian Dance
1:25 p.m. - Taiwanese Dance / Song
1:55 p.m. - Filipino Dance
2:10 p.m. - Hawaiian Dance
2:35 p.m. - Korean Traditional Dance
2:40 p.m. - Indian Dance
2:55 p.m. - Hula Dance
3:10 p.m. - Chinese Classic Dance
3:35 p.m. - Thai Music/Dance
3:50 p.m. - Belly Dance
4:00 p.m. - Tai Chi Fan
4:05 p.m. - Taiko
4:50 p.m. - Raffle

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