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PACIFIC OCEAN - Pacific Partnership 2013 Sailors, non-government organization volunteers and partner nation service members from Australia, Canada, Colombia, and New Zealand celebrated Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), May 28.
The celebration included presentations highlighting the global contributions of Asian-Pacific Islanders, speeches by Pacific Partnership 2013 leadership and performances of traditional Pacific Island song and dance.
"The celebration was tremendous," said Royal New Zealand Air Force Group Capt. Darryn Webb, Pacific Partnership 2013 deputy mission commander. "It was a really nice way to capture the important role that the Indo-Asia-Pacific community plays in the wider global community. It was really authentic and showed how important working together is for everybody in the region."
The gathering gave members of the Pacific Partnership 2013 team a chance to learn more about one another's culture.
"My favorite part was being able to see such diversity being celebrated," said Flora Alailima, a registered nurse from Samoa volunteering with Pacific Partnership. "Everybody looks so uniform in the Navy, but things like this allows us to see peoples' individuality."
Attendees said that the celebration was also an opportunity for Pacific Partnership 2013 personnel from around the world to bond as a unit.
"It's one thing saying that you're going to conduct a multi-national mission, but it's another thing actually proving it," said Webb. "Events like this reinforce exactly what it means to work as one team."
For those of Asian Pacific heritage, Pacific Partnership, and missions like it, is of particular importance. The whole region is located in a geologically active area of the Pacific known as the "Ring of Fire." In this region, the question is not if, but when a disaster might strike, as tragically witnessed in 2009 when an 8.0 magnitude earthquake, and its resulting tsunami, devastated Tonga, Samoa and American Samoa.