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YHS Students Celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage

Students perform the Tinikling, a traditional Philippine folk dance, during the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

Students perform the Tinikling, a traditional Philippine folk dance, during the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The event, while focusing on educating individuals on different aspects of Asian Pacific Islander heritage, was a celebration of diversity and emphasized the importance of understanding one another’s culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Students perform the Chinese dragon dance as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

Students perform the Chinese dragon dance as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The celebration gave students an opportunity to showcase the contributions of famous Asian Americans and gave attendees the chance to see a variety of performances with roots from all over the Asian Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Cadets from Yokota High School’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps present the colors as the school choir sings the Japanese and American national anthems prior to the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

Cadets from Yokota High School’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps present the colors as the school choir sings the Japanese and American national anthems prior to the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The celebration gave students an opportunity to showcase the contributions of famous Asian Americans and gave attendees the chance to see a variety of performances with roots from all over the Asian Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Students perform the Hawaiian dance Te-Hiva as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

Students perform the Hawaiian dance Te-Hiva as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The event, while focusing on educating individuals on different aspects of Asian Pacific Islander heritage, was a celebration of diversity and emphasized the importance of understanding one another’s culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Students conclude a fashion show with the traditional Japanese wedding kimono as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

Students conclude a fashion show with the traditional Japanese wedding kimono as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The celebration gave students an opportunity to showcase the contributions of famous Asian Americans and gave attendees the chance to see a variety of performances with roots from all over the Asian Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Volunteers demonstrate a set of Kendo exercises known as kata for students as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

Volunteers demonstrate a set of Kendo exercises known as kata for students as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The event, while focusing on educating individuals on different aspects of Asian Pacific Islander heritage, was a celebration of diversity and emphasized the importance of understanding one another’s culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Taiko drummers give a brief history lesson on the origination of the art prior to a performance at the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

Taiko drummers give a brief history lesson on the origination of the art prior to a performance at the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The event, while focusing on educating individuals on different aspects of Asian Pacific Islander heritage, was a celebration of diversity and emphasized the importance of understanding one another’s culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Performers play taiko drums for students as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

Performers play taiko drums for students as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The celebration gave students an opportunity to showcase the contributions of famous Asian Americans and gave attendees the chance to see a variety of performances with roots from all over the Asian Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Students demonstrate the Korean martial art Taekwondo as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

Students demonstrate the Korean martial art Taekwondo as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The celebration gave students an opportunity to showcase the contributions of famous Asian Americans and gave attendees the chance to see a variety of performances with roots from all over the Asian Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

Koku Jietai, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, service members demonstrate mochi pounding for the students as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.
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Koku Jietai, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, service members demonstrate mochi pounding for the students as part of the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018. The event, while focusing on educating individuals on different aspects of Asian Pacific Islander heritage, was a celebration of diversity and emphasized the importance of understanding one another’s culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Gilmore)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Whether a melting pot, a salad bowl, or any other metaphor used to describe it, the United States is undoubtedly a country filled with diversity. While being the 1% of Americans who do serve, the military itself is no different, it is a microcosm of the diversity our nation as a whole represents. We may all come from different places, backgrounds, cultures and upbringings, but we stand as one with a common goal at heart: protecting our nation.

In hopes of celebrating that diversity that stands as one in service, the students at Yokota High School hosted the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 3, 2018.

The event, an early capstone for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, focused on educating those in attendance with a variety of hands on and visually stunning performances.

“Today is all about educating, engaging and entertaining everyone,” said Lily Bagtas, YHS school nurse. “We will showcase the contributions of some famous Asian Americans not only to share the richness and complexity of our Asian-Pacific Culture, but also the importance of cultural knowledge and the role it plays in truly understanding one another.

“That knowledge is going to be infused into our program and the sessions of mochi pounding, Kendo, Taekwondo, kimono dressing, taiko drums, hula dancing, calligraphy and ink wash painting that attendees will have the chance to experience.”

For the students who had the opportunity to share their heritage, their experience was all about building bonds with their fellow students and the community as a whole.

“When it comes to being on a team, whether at school or as part of Team Yokota, the understanding of other cultures is one of the first steps I feel you have to take when it comes to successfully working with others,” said Mj Ninal, YHS sophomore. “Especially with our school here having so much diversity, I think it is vital that we all share our cultures. When we make that effort to share and understand, we can truly have appreciation for each other.”

It is through appreciation and understanding that a common ground can be created to help give way to an open mind capable of seeing the world anew.

“By better understanding other cultures that are different from our own, we can broaden our horizons and better enjoy the world around us,” said Bagtas. “APAHM is not only about sharing our heritage, it is also about coming together as a community. The military is a diverse place, not only to work in but for these children to grow up in. Today’s event was just another way for us to come together and celebrate not just Asian-Pacific Islander heritage, but our community in its entirety.

“I hope those in attendance were able to appreciate the time and effort these students put into perfecting their performances here today. Through their performances, I hope you could feel exactly what Asian-Pacific islander heritage means to each and every one of us.”