News | June 6, 2017

Distribution Multicultural committee celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

By Brianne M. Bender DLA Distribution Public Affairs

 

DLA Distribution’s Multicultural Committee celebrated the culture, traditions and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with a program held on Wednesday, May 23. This year’s theme is “Unite our voices by speaking together.”

DLA Distribution deputy commander, Twila C. Gonzales, Senior Executive Service welcomed everyone in attendance and gave a brief synopsis on the history of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month before introducing the keynote speaker, Tika Ram Dhungana, president and founder of the Bhutanese Community Center of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

To begin his presentation, Dhungana spoke to the DLA Distribution headquarters audience about the 18 years he and his family spent in a Nepali refugee camp before immigrating to the United States in 2010.

”I am confident the people of this country are united and have the same goals for peace and prosperity,” explained Dhungana. “We can always be stronger together, and our voice can reach a great distance if we produce it together for a common goal.”

Dhungana has a master’s degree in Chemistry from Tribhuvan University, honors in chemistry from India and was a high school principal in Nepal. When arriving in the U.S. he became an interpreter with the International Service Center and still works with them as a language consultant. He is currently a regional manager for International Home Care, LLC in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

In 2014 Dhungana became a published author of a book called "Satisfaction and Service, a Grand Source of Success.”

Following Dhungana’s presentation, Champa Dulal of the Bhutanese Community Center performed a traditional Nepali dance. 

Additionally, the National Anthem was performed by Jenny Burman, wife of DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania’s executive officer, Navy Lt. Cmd. Rex Burman. Navy Lt. Wilfred Trefren presented the invocation.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month takes place in May. It celebrates the culture, traditions and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

In June 1977, the United States House of Representatives proclaimed the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate a month later. President Jimmy Carter signed a resolution for the celebration on October 5, 1978.

In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month. May was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month two years later. On May 1, 2009 President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation which recalls the challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and celebrates their great and significant contributions to our society.