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RELEASE: Panelists Share Stories at Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Opening Ceremony

By May 7, 2014No Comments

Press Release

Immediate Release:
May 6, 2014
Emily Kessel, NAKASEC,
Dong Yoon Kim, NAKASEC,

Panelists Share Stories at Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Opening Ceremony

WASHINGTON DC – Today, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) hosted the 2014 AAPI Heritage Month Opening Ceremony at the Yates Auditorium in the Department of Interior. Four AAPI panelists including Dae Joong (DJ) Yoon, executive director of NAKASEC talked about their personal journey as Americans who sought to overcome challenges to aspire for a better life for all. They shared what motivated them and the aspirations they have for their community and country. Vice President Joe Biden delivered remarks and Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center moderated the event.

Dae Joong (DJ) Yoon, Executive Director of NAKASEC, said: “A wake up call for me is understanding that people are judged based on whether or not they have papers. That is why immigration reform that uplifts the American value of equality is vital. After the introduction of DACA, young DREAMers would show me their Drivers License or work permit with excitement. Now they can be anyone. It is a powerful moment.”

Actor Maulik Pancholy spoke about his admiration for his grandfather’s undying curiosity about things he could not understand. As a Jain, he would read the Bible to better understand his Christian friends. Mary A.Y. Okada of Guam Community College uplifted the need for individuals to have support at every step of their growth. Writer and journalist Helen Zia knew that there were stories that had to be told and it was instrumental for her to put those words onto paper.

Background on the AAPI Heritage Month:
“Since 1977, the month of May recognizes the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians to the American story. The legislation honoring the significance of our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage was introduced by some of the finest Asian Americans in U.S. history: Congressman Norman Mineta, Senator Spark Matsunaga, and Senator Daniel Inouye.”

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The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) was founded in 1994 by local community centers to project a progressive voice and promote the full participation of Korean Americans on major social justice issues. NAKASEC maintains offices in Annandale, Virginia and Los Angeles, California. NAKASEC has affiliates in Chicago (Korean American Resource & Cultural Center) and Los Angeles (Korean Resource Center).