Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) held an Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month observance at the Aegis Training and Fleet Readiness Auditorium May 22, recognizing the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the nation and the Navy.
The theme this year was "Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity, and Inclusion."
“Diversity has made our nation and our Navy stronger,” said NSWCDD Commander Capt. Michael Smith in his opening remarks. “To benefit the most from that diversity, every individual, military or civilian, must be encouraged and enabled to reach his or her full potential. This is an important goal at NSWC Dahlgren and key to our mission success.”
Three keynote speakers inspired the Dahlgren audience to reach their full potentials and to make an impact with diverse thoughts, ideas and competencies.
Ms. Giao Phan - the Coast Guard Deputy Director of Acquisition Programs since November 2007 - said that excellence in leadership requires setting goals; being passionate about what you do; learning to communicate well; and knowing the importance of mentoring.
Phan said that the Naval Sea Systems Command leadership development program helped her to aim higher in her career, explaining it was important for her to stretch beyond engineering and learn more about financial management. Phan emphasized that she believes it is important to repay her debt and her people's debt to the United States military for what they did for her country, Vietnam. She also credited her volunteerism as being important in teaching her organizational skills.
"What is diversity?" Ms. Ye-Ling Wang, Deputy Program Manager PEO Carriers, asked the audience.
It depends on who you talk to, said Wang, pointing out that her co-worker believes diversity translates to, “women in leadership roles”.
Wang, the Deputy Program Manager for the Future Aircraft Carriers Program a male-centric organization said she understands her co-worker's perspective of diversity. However, what makes us strong, said Wang, are all the diverse ideas we can pull together.
Wang spoke about the evolution of thinking of diversity in terms of the diversity of ideas. Older generations may still think in terms of gender, race, ethnic background and religion but the younger generation tends to look at differences in approaches, skills, and talents, she said.
The event’s third guest speaker, Professor Nguyen Bich, focused on inclusion.
The long road of integration in America was just beginning when Dr. Bich arrived in the United States in 1956.
Americans have a long history of being Eurocentric, Bich pointed out, adding that we are beginning to see that we are a country between two oceans.
The Hanoi, Vietnamborn educator, lecturer, author and translator quoted numbers from the 2010 census and the latest reports showing the growth of U.S. minorities and that by 2020 Caucasians will be the minority.
Inclusion is a two-way process, said Bich, who taught Literature, Culture and Civilization at George Mason University’s Trinity College.
In closing, the professor and co-founder of the National News Service which provides news for readers of Vietnamese language to newspapers worldwide sang a Vietnamese love song, making the point that we may not understand the language but we can relate to the passion and universal human experience.
In 1977, then-President Jimmy Carter established the first official Asian and Pacific American Heritage Week during the first 10 days of May. The month of May was chosen to both commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States May 7, 1843, and mark the anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad May 10, 1869. The majority of the individuals who laid the tracks on the first transcontinental railroad were Chinese immigrants.
Twelve years later, then-President George H.W. Bush extended the observance throughout the entire month of May. In 1992, the month long celebration was officially signed into law and named Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month.
"Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have persevered and flourished, achieving success in every sector of American life," noted President Barack Obama in his 2010 Presidential Proclamation. "They stood shoulder to shoulder with their fellow citizens during the civil rights movement; they have served proudly in our Armed Forces; and they have prospered as leaders in business, academia, and public service."
The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute provides printable posters, presentations and educational facts on their website, http://www.deomi.org/ under the section "Special Observances."
Diversity and Inclusion
During World War II, Chinese and Japanese American men and women enlisted for military service in great numbers. More than 20,000 Chinese Americans or one out of every five in the United States served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Filipino and Korean Americans also participated in the nation’s war effort. Asian Pacific American Navy men and women continued to serve honorably in the U.S. Navy and participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars and throughout the Cold War. In 1971, the Navy formally lifted the restrictions that had previously limited Philippine-born recruits in the Navy to the steward rating only. Asian Pacific Americans continue to serve in our Navy today, with more than 20,000 represented in our Navy Total Force. Today, the Navy remains strongly committed to diversity and inclusion, creating a culture where everyone can give their best efforts to carry out the mission.
Facts and Figures
- Nine admirals, 11 members of the senior executive service, and 191 master chief petty officers of Asian and Pacific American heritage are currently leading the Navy.
- There are more than 340,000 veterans of Asian and Pacific American heritage, approximately 1.5 percent of the 23 million American veterans.
- The Navy History and Heritage Command’s website, www.history.navy.mil/index.html, features photos and biographies of many Asian and Pacific American Sailors who have served in the Navy.