May 18, 2010 - 10:16 am

Over one hundred Commission employees were witness to a remarkable presentation yesterday morning in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage month in the Commission Meeting Room. Here’s a rough rundown of the program. The morning started off with Yul Kwon, Deputy Bureau Chief in CGB and today’s master of ceremonies, giving a brief introduction to the assembled crowd. He began by sharing a bit about why he chose to compete in the Survivor program, which he won in 2006. Great misperceptions about Asians persist, Kwon said, and going on Survivor gave him the platform to counter many of these in front of a worldwide audience.

(View the full photo set of the pictures from yesterday's event. Photo credit: Jenny Hou)

Kwon then introduced the morning’s keynote speaker, Commissioner Stuart Ishimaru. Commissioner Ishimaru is a commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In his presentation he told stories of little-known Asian-Americans who were on the front lines of history; beside Malcolm X; embroiled in the McCarthy hearings; or, like Ishimaru's grandparents, horrifically deplaced in internment camps during World War II. Americans show an extraordinary capacity for resilience, he noted. Returning to the theme of the month Commissioner Ishimaru touted the myriad benefits of diversity in the workplace.

After talking the audience was ready to be energized. Commission employees were not disappointed when thirty adorable kids emerged in the room, appearing to range in age from 5 to 15 years-old. Twenty of the older set bounded on stage to perform a dance that resembled a Filipino variation of Bernstein and Sondheim’s “West Side Story.” The dance troupe Songspell traveled from the Philippines to tour on the U.S. circuit and proceeded to delight our audience with a veritable mélange of musical acts, songs, dance routines, and costumes. There were rock and roll numbers and national anthem-sounding sets. Each was gorgeous in every respect.

Another performance by Soka Gakkai rounded out the morning's program. The two women performed an elaborate drum dance and featured one of the workers at our very own Capital Café. They were dressed in colorful and vibrant Chinese robes.

Remarks by Thomas Wyatt closed the event and a delicious reception followed.