Celebrating le matagofie o le Pasefika

Army Sgt. Mele Semo and Specialist Cat Mai demonstrate a traditional Tahitian dance.  The Army Reserve’s 304th Sustainment Brigade held a luncheon at March Air Reserve Base celebrating Asian Pacific Islander month May24. (U.S. Army photo by Specialist Tracy Ellingsen)

Army Sgt. Mele Semo and Specialist Cat Mai demonstrate a traditional Tahitian dance. The Army Reserve’s 304th Sustainment Brigade held a luncheon at March Air Reserve Base celebrating Asian Pacific Islander month May24. (U.S. Army photo by Specialist Tracy Ellingsen)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- Talofa, afio mai e molimau le matagofie o le Pasefika. Or for those of you who do not speak Samoan: Hello, come experience the beauty of the Pacific. 

The Army Reserve's 304th Sustainment Brigade held a luncheon celebrating Asian Pacific Islander month May 24. The celebration was the first of many planned by the brigade's Equal Opportunity office. 

Fifty Soldiers, family members, civilian employees, and guests attended the event held in the brigade's headquarters building here. 

Each person attending the festivities had a Hawaiian Lei draped around their neck as they walked through the door. The luncheon began with the invocation given by Chaplain (Capt.) Uelisese Mata'afa, a native of Samoa. Guests were then treated to a feast of traditional Asian and Pacific Island food including Teriyaki Chicken, Barbequed Beef, Lumpia, Chicken Adobe, rice and pineapple cake. 

After lunch, the guests were entertained with a fashion show featuring traditional garments from Vietnam, China, Korea, Japan and Samoa. Not all of the Soldiers who modeled the clothing were of Asian or Pacific Island heritages.

"The fact that I was able to participate was encouraging and reinforces the spirit of the Equal Opportunity program," said Army Staff Sgt. Renee Taylor, a Caucasian Soldier who modeled Korean clothing in the fashion show. "A few years ago I participated in a military exercise at Camp Humphreys in the Republic of Korea, which is where I bought the Korean dress I wore." 

"When I took on the project, my mission and my goal were to show how diverse we are in the Army," said Army Sgt. Asoiva Thomsen, who coordinated the luncheon. "Having non-Asian Pacific Islander Soldiers involved showed that we're receptive to different cultures. 

After the fashion show, Thomsen, along with Specialist Cat Mai and Sgt. Mele Semo demonstrated dances from Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti and Tonga. 

"For me as a Pacific Islander it's always a pleasure to show my culture and my heritage," said Thomsen, a native of Samoa.