Airmen recognize cultures, differences
Maxwell Air Force Base celebrated Cultural Awareness Day, June, 20 2014. Various booths were setup in the honor guard hangar to help educate the base about all the different cultures around the world. People aslo viewed performances by the various cultural groups. (U.S. Air Force photo by Donna L. Burnett)
Airmen recognize cultures, differences

by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/25/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Al.  -- Music, singing, dancing and the smell of food filled the honor guard hangar as Airmen celebrated one another's cultures at Maxwell-Gunter's first Cultural Awareness Day June 20.

The day kicked-off with a 5K run, where participants were encouraged to wear various colored shirts to show support for one another's cultures and histories. Later, more joined in on festivities at the fair inside the hangar to celebrate together.

In the past, 10 special observances were recognized throughout the year within the Air Force per Department of Defense guidance. This event gave cultural awareness committees the opportunity to work together to create a day observing five of the 10 cultures under the theme, "My Culture, Your Culture, Our Culture."

"What we used to do was celebrate individual days of culture throughout the year, and maybe some were able to attend one of two of those events in the past. But bringing all of these events together, celebrating together, we're able to exchange ideas on our cultures," said Col. Andrea Tullos, 42nd Air Base Wing commander, during her remarks to open the event.

The five special observances were: Women's history, Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage, African American/Black history, Hispanic heritage and Native American Indian heritage. While those were the special observances sponsored by their individual committees, the day was a celebration for all.

"Every one of us who walked into the hangar today brought with us our own culture, whether you're directly correlated to one of the cultures we're specifically highlighting today or not," said Tullos. "I encourage you all to share your story regardless of what your background is because we are all a part of the diversity of our Air Force."

After less than one hour at the fair, Senior Airman Lewis Bevins, a computer programmer at Air University, noticed the value of the event.

"It's a good way to see all the different cultures all in one place," he said. "It's definitely a good way to learn about all the different cultures, especially if you didn't know much already."

Upon seeing the event, which was five-months in the making, come together, event coordinator Maj. Thuy Vo smiled and said, "This is more than expected. Everything turned out perfect."

Along with Vo, who works at the 42nd Medical Group, the various cultural and observance committees were excited to see the day finally unfold.

"It took hours of coordination and lots of stress to compile everything, but it was all worth it," said 2nd Lt. Imad Mohammadi, Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage chair person. "This was not only a wing, but also a tenant unit effort. Everyone came together."

As a day of culture, American Airmen weren't the only ones there to celebrate.

Air War College student Col. Erickson Gloria of the Philippine Air Force was one of the international officers who stopped by the fair to take part in activities and learn about various cultures alongside their American comrades.

"This is a very nice event; you can see there is unity and diversity" he said. "I hope Maxwell continues these kinds of programs to open barriers."

Gloria also emphasized the importance of his fellow foreign officers attending events like this.

"This kind of forum is important for them to learn of the different traditions and practices of the various countries they work with," said Gloria.

At the end of the day, the hangar empty and quiet and the last piece of orange chicken was gone, but U.S. and international Airmen and their families left with a little more knowledge about one another.