Taste of Culture brings unique flavors to Sheppard

  • Published
  • By John Ingle
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Asian cuisine, camaraderie and a little hula dancing was the right recipe for an Asian American and Pacific Islander Month event May 18, 2022, at the Solid Rock Café. 

A large number of Airmen showed up for the AAPI Taste of Culture event, where all sorts of Asian dishes were on hand for sampling, ranging from fried rice, lumpia and a Hawaiian favorite — SPAM sushi. Some in attendance also jumped on stage with dancers from Grace Hula Dancing Co. in Dallas to twist, turn and wave their arms in the air to tropical music. 

Master Sgt. Kevin John, an observance co-lead along with Staff Sgt. Dreanna Basaldu, said the observance of the month and participation by military and civilian members of Sheppard AFB embodies the multiculturalism of the Air Force and the country. He said 

“As someone with a different ethnic background, I definitely understand how important it is to have representation and how important it is to have your story told,” the 362nd Training Squadron first sergeant said. “So, I’m just glad that I was able to be part of that and help everyone here tell their story.”

John said the purpose of Taste of Culture is to tell the Asian American and Pacific Islander through the ethnic foods from those regions of the world. Regardless of where someone is or their heritage and background, food is a common thread of societal fabrics that transcends all cultures. 

“Many different cultures are able to sit around the dinner table at night and come together as family, as friends and as a community,” he said. “It’s a really warm experience.”

Staff Sgt. Roger Chandler, NCOIC of the 82nd Training Wing Equal Opportunity Office, said the AAPI events are typically successful because of the opportunity to educate people on the culture, whether it’s the cuisine presented at Taste of Culture or the importance placed on family. He applauded this year’s committee for having a plan and executing it to make it a successful observance.

He said observance months are important to the overall culture of the Air Force because of the diversity that envelopes the different shades of blue. It’s a representative melting pot of the nation.

“We all come from different walks of life, different cultures, for one common goal, and that’s to serve,” he said. “We don’t want to overshadow where people come from, and I think that’s what really makes us strong as a force. We pull from so many different cultures, bring them all together to learn about one another and move forward.”