Tibetan Americans as Asian Americans

2000folklifedcIf you were in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2000 you would recall the excitement of the Tibetan section of the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival held on the Mall that year. The photo above is on the blog of an observer who attended His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s unique appearance on the Mall as part of the Festival. It is accompanied by an interesting observation.

For the two weeks or so on could feel that Tibetan culture had been transplanted on the Mall, which is the big open space stretching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument. It was coordinated by the Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture.

That Tibetan festival was followed by a Bhutan festival in 2008 and it was time for the Aku Drukpas to take pride in their culture.

Tibetan Americans now have another opportunity to look at a different aspect of their identity when the Smithsonian Folklife Festival for 2010 features the Asian Pacific American community.

The Festival’s website says the following:

“Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) in the Washington, D.C., area speak dozens of different languages, teach classes that emphasize ethnic identity, participate in traditional practices, and contribute to the cultural landscape of our nation’s capital and its surroundings. With approximately 30 Asian American and 24 Pacific Island American groups in the U.S., the more than 350,000 APAs who live in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area represent a microcosm of the cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity found from New York to Hawaii, and every state in-between. The Asian Pacific American Connections program at the 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will focus on what it means to be a person of Asian descent living in the United States today and examine strategies for adaptation.

“The program will bring together people from diverse communities to highlight the breadth of traditions practiced by APA cultures, and make connections not only to each other, but to the broader communities in which they live, work, and play. Through interactions with theater, music, and dance performances; language and calligraphy traditions; martial arts, healing arts, and ritual arts; crafts and foodways demonstrations; sports and games presentations; and children’s activities, Festival visitors will learn about APA identity, history, and culture, and discover shared and integrated traditions among APAs.”

Apparently, “In addition to the Festival program, collected stories, images, video, and audio clips of traditional culture in APA communities will come together in a Web site that combines user-contributed content with the work of Smithsonian curators.”


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