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Service Members Share Culture at CLDJ’s 2023 AAPI Heritage Month Event

02 June 2023

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rion Codrington

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (May 21, 2023) U.S. service members deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month through a series of speeches and cultural demonstrations, May 21.
AAPI Heritage Month celebrates the contributions, cultures, and rich heritage of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the United States since 1992.

“Tonight’s event is a way that we celebrate Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Suzanne Krauss, commanding officer CLDJ. “It allows us to honor the contributions of service members, leaders, and trailblazer, while showing and sharing a piece of our own heritage.”

Camp Lemonnier’s Diversity Committee and Filipino American Community Association co-hosted the event to share AAPI culture and promote diversity and inclusion to all of CLDJ.

“For the AAPI community, we’re big on people, we’re big on family, we’re big on opening our family,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Ventura, FILCOM president. “Seeing all of the demonstrations and having all those people there, truly meant a lot.”

This year’s event had a variety of performances by service members and base residents from a traditional Hawaiian hula performed, to the singing of a Japanese song, and the performance of the Philippine folk dance tinikling.

“Here at CLDJ, we are a team. The diversity that we bring to the table from different perspectives, life experiences, to our backgrounds all contribute to how we make better teams, decisions, and products to get our mission done,” said Krauss.

Krauss is a third-generation Korean-American military officer with twenty-eight years of experience, holding command leadership roles across the globe. Her experience is one of the many that epitomizes this year’s Department of Defense theme ‘Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.’

“For me, being Korean-American, I have had different, yet similar experiences to many of you that informed my values, perspective and leadership that I rely on today and in this role,” said Krauss.

CLDJ’s celebration was more than recognizing the contributions of the AAPI community, it was about overcoming cultural differences, branching and coming together as a team, said Krauss.

“Being a member of the AAPI community, we have so much to be proud of,” Krauss said. “Hold your space. We belong.”

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