Orange County Celebrates 10th Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Month
Brightly dressed Polynesian dancers, a Japanese tea ceremony, rhythmic Taiko drummers and Tai chi demonstrations were all part of an annual celebration marking Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI).
Hosted by Orange County and Orange County Asian Committee (OCAC) the May 10 celebration was held at the Orange County Administration Building in downtown Orlando. Festivities included cultural performances and activities and was highlighted by an Asian-themed Art Exhibition.
For the exhibition, the County partnered with Orange County Public School art teachers, and displayed 120 digital art pieces from public schools and private art schools. Five Asian American artists made up the judging panel, which picked three winners from four different age groups. OCAC selected 43 of these pieces to be displayed at the Orange County Administration Building atrium for the entire month of May.
“The goal of the committee is to promote Asian heritage and recognize Asian American contributions to the community,” said Shally Wong, special assistant to Mayor Demings. “We’re all Americans, but we have rich and diverse cultures that make us unique, and we encourage Orange County employees and residents to embrace that.”
The AAPI Celebration gives residents a chance to learn about cultures from the Asian continent and the Pacific islands in an up close and personal way. Six percent of Orange County’s population are Asian-Americans, representing approximately 84,000 residents. The celebration included seven stage performances representing the countries of India, Polynesia, Vietnam, China, the Philippines and Japan.
Another highlight of the celebration was the presentation of the Outstanding Community Service Award and the Distinguished Asian American Award, which were presented to Leilani Fontanilla and Usha Tewari respectively.
Fontanilla is president of the Bayanihan International Ladies Association. She is also a nurse and organizes monthly health screenings at the Marks Senior Center in Orlando. Fontanilla has also represented the Council for Filipino American Association and the 2020 Census, as well as voter registration drives. Tewari, who manages a constituent services team, advocates for dementia patients and caregivers through her blog posts and podcast, titled The Indian Caregiver.
“The awards signify the importance of Asian Americans serving their community,” said Wong. “It’s important to emphasize this good community work and encourage more of it.”
Orange County Asian Committee fosters a diverse and inclusive workplace for employees while also promoting and preserving the heritage and culture of Asian Americans. For more, go to the https://www.facebook.com/ocacfl.