Photo Caption: Thai traditional dancer Aime Herroll performs at APCC’s 14th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration. Photo courtesy of Asia Pacific Cultural Center.

On Feb. 9th,  the Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) is transforming the Tacoma Dome into the Asia Pacific.

APCC’s mission is to bring together the different Asian Pacific (AP) communities, help others appreciate different cultures, and improve intergenerational communication.

“The Annual New Year Celebration is a present from the Asia Pacific community to the larger community,” said Patsy Surh O’Connell, APCC’s president and founder.
In years past, the event attracted more than 5,000 people. However, this year, it’s 15th anniversary, O’Connell expects 8,000 attendees.

APCC is a nonprofit organization that represents 47 countries and their cultures by promoting them through various programs and events.

“It takes a community to fulfill dreams,” said Lua Pritchard, APPC’s executive director.

The organization was established in 1996 with a dream to connect segregated, interracial communities into one unified community using Asia Pacific culture as a resource to connect and inspire these communities. This could be in the form of dance, business, art or education.

One of APPC’s most popular features is the cultural treasure trunk program. Partnering with libraries, museums and schools, this program is designed to bring cultures to life with community presentations. Volunteers share trunks full of artifacts while sharing information from their home countries. Students can interact, touch, hear a new language and learn about country while the presenters take them on a journey.

Continuing to educate all ages, APPC offers cooking classes for traditional foods, introductions to four different languages, a swell as music, dance and various arts classes such as origami.

In addition, APPC helps students turn their lives around who may face homelessness or gang violence. This is delivered through a youth program called “Promised Leaders of Tomorrow,” where students are guided and mentored to earn a high school diploma and look ahead at starting a  career.

“Right now we want to expand more of what we have, especially with the youth program,” explained Jasmine Argel, APCC’s fund development associate. “We haven’t had to turn away anyone, but we have one program manager and mentors. We are always looking to add mentors for assistance; there is so much volume and involvement.”

APCC leaders say the future of APCC is promising.

“Washington state is so diverse. The AP community has grown so much, and we’re here to help understand and bring harmony in all different cultures and share in tradition, value and heritage,” said Argel.

One way they plan on strengthening their community and programs is by expanding their facility into a larger center where they can offer more classes. The main focus of the center would be to support, celebrate and educate the AP community as a whole. “We have a big vision for this building in the years to come,” Argel shared. “The government is very supportive of the center and it hopes to work with the city in regards to the expansion.”

With the New Year’s Celebration on Feb. 9th, along with their continuous enriching programs, APCC is sure to be the bridge cultures and keep building connections.
“We are trying to build relationships with people across cultures and generations,” Argel explained.

Every New Year celebration, organizers feature one of the many countries they represent.

In this celebration, it’s 15th year, their main theme is “The Best of Taiwan.”
In addition to Taiwan, 12-15 other Asia Pacific countries will be on cultural exhibition at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall.  A special highlight this year is the addition of the world-famous Kkockduseh percussion group to the line-up, performers who are flying all the way from Siheung, South Korea.

For more information about APCC or their 15th Annual New Year’s event, visit www.asiapacificculturalcenter.org.

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