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Asian-American Foundation Celebrates Heritage Month
BY VEENA RAO
The Asian American Heritage Foundation held its annual gala dinner and fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta on May 22nd . The annual dinner is held in the month of May every year to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month. Guests associated with at least 16 member organizations graced the event. Kiran Ahuja, executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was the keynote speaker.
In her keynote address, Ahuja recounted her struggles growing up brown in Savannah, Georgia at a time when there were very few Indian immigrants there. “I felt like I was the only one; that I didn’t fit in. I wanted to change my name,” she said, adding, “Being brown in Savannah helped me navigate two worlds- white and black.”
Ahuja said her own struggles motivated her towards a career in public service.
“Asian Americans have the highest rate of suicide, especially after 9/11,” she said. “If we don’t talk about the problems in our community, nobody is going to realize something is wrong.” The President has a strong commitment to serve our communities, she added.
Ahuja also spoke about the community’s significant representation in the federal government. She urged the younger generation to serve in the federal government.
“The federal government will be hiring 100,000 people in the next two years,” she said. “It is our job to see that our government looks like us.”
Earlier in the evening, Farooq Soomro, president of the foundation, in his report said, “We continue to fulfill the aims of the founding members.” He said, this year, the foundation also wanted to reach out to community organizations and support them. Another mission was to start a scholarship for students, he added.
Ani Agnihotri, foundation chairperson, welcomed the guests and dignitaries and thanked the corporate sponsors and member associations. “The dinner is an opportunity for the Asian-American community to come together to recognize the historical contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Heritage. We also use the dinner as an opportunity to raise money for worthwhile Georgian community projects in the areas of health, education, civil rights, charities and a community center,” Agnihotri was quoted as saying, in the event brochure.
Entertainment included a Thai invocation dance and dances by the young students of China Tree and the Atlanta Asian Culture and Arts Center.
Christopher J. Horace of the Coca-Cola Company was the host for the evening.