Asia Pacific Cultural Center open house at South Park Community Center

Friday, October 7, 2011 the Asia Pacific Cultural Center had its open house for its new location at the South Park Community Center. The event took place from 3 pm to 6 pm and included: various Asian dances, an Asia Pacific Cultural Center information table, Japanese origami, Korean and Chinese calligraphy, and a social area where free refreshments were served. Patsy Surh O’Connell, Founder and of the President of Asia Pacific Cultural Center, explained details of the event, “This is a milestone for the organization’s development. We would like to be here temporarily [in current new location]. Our dream is to have our own facility in downtown Tacoma and that will house all of the people. I wanted downtown and we actually bought the former Tacoma Art Museum because we wanted to bring the Asia Pacific community members downtown to be a part of American culture. That didn’t happen so we sold in 2002, the building and downsized the whole organization. We wanted to service the community with the New Year celebration at the Tacoma Dome and Luau for the Pacific Highlanders (five to seven Pacific Islanders come together to showcase their cultures) cultures. We have the “Cultural Treasure Trunk” project in which we all bring our own collection and cultures in the trunk when we immigrated to this country and with different culture interpreter those that came from those countries and teach middle schools in Pierce County about how we lived, how we communicated, and how we had fun. We have hands on activities and we have gone to different schools but now the teacher of Puyallup school district asked to teach the teachers the differences and what the similarities so they can be educated about those countries. This year we actually took the Pierce County library system summer reading program and so we went to each library and showcased the different countries. We would like to be here about 5 years and build our own cultural center secret [Patsy does not want to reveal the new location as they are working towards it]. Today people can know what to expect from the year 2012 and now.”

Patsy provided details on the history of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, “We gathered five different Asia Pacific community leaders that are immigrants to second and third generations and talked about how it was important to have good culture to our children and succeeding generations and each other under Asians. We wanted all of the community to understand who they are living with in America. We immediately established a non-profit organization called Asia Pacific Cultural Center in 1996. We have done bridging communities and generations ever since 1996.” Patsy discussed what she thought of the open house event, “I am very excited about the many people interested in how we grow and are able to show how much we’ve grown. Also, how much the classes and activities we’re doing to let the mainstream know about who we are. So, by learning each other we find out our similarities and we became one.” (Patsy also mentioned that they decided to use “Asia” instead of “Asian” for the name of the organization because they wanted to be identifying as geographically; not by race.)

Patsy shared the best thing about the open house event, “This facility…we always wanted a classroom and places to teach our culture and we didn’t have that so we had to borrow and rent it all these years and now we are able to do that within the house.”  Patsy described the refreshments that were served at the open house, “The food was donated by our board members and we have 14 board members and 7 different ethnicities.  We have Filipino Lumpia, Korean sushi, Japanese Yinari sushi, Korean rice cakes, Teriyaki wings, Thai iced tea, coffee, water, muffins, and chocolate cake.”

Patsy described how the open house event is different compared to other cultural events, “It is unique because not only can you come to one place to learn about one culture, you’re learning about 47 cultures and of those 47, 20 that represented in Washington State (culture presentation by people that showcase through the Asia Pacific Cultural Center). The difference is that we as Asians understand each other that we have all have more similarities and very little differences. We focus on the similarity we became one instead of negative part of differences so it’s always important that we recognize our similarities. This cultural center can afford places to come and learn with each other and we are only six degrees apart. We also have a cultural tea ceremony Chinese, Korean, Japanese and we include India, Thai, and Samoa we have six different tea drinking services and we’ve been doing that the past three years. It’s at the Fircrest community center the next and last tea ceremony is November 5 at 10:00 am we will be serving Japanese Kungfu style tea like temple tea. The charge is $10 for non members [of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center] and $5 for members of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center; you can buy tickets at the door. We do that to show some differences culturally drinking tea, like Thai tea is very much influenced by Chinese and yet they made their own culture of drinking. Make reservation (253) 383-3900 or come to the Fircrest Community Center: 555 Contra Costa Avenue Fircrest, WA 98466.”

Patsy also discussed another upcoming event that the Asia Pacific Cultural Center will be sponsoring, “A three day workshop by Korean traditional tea Master “Lee In Young” which is a traditional tea ceremony and craft woman where you learn about Korean tea and also do hands on one craft per day. Learn how to do natural dye on silk, the second day [make] Jokabo (piecing material to make a wrapping cloth which is used as a holder to give money or a letter) in Korea it’s just like red envelopes for Chinese, and the third day learning about tea cookies. For more information: call: (253) 383-3900 November 18, 19, and 21, 2011 is when the event takes place and it’s $150 for the material and an additional fee of $35. Please register by November 9, 2011.”

For more information about the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, please visit: There will be more detailed classes coming in the year 2012. Patsy concluded, “I really appreciate Metro Parks to consider us to be a renter for 2012 and on and we always look at collaboration because it is the key for success for everybody.”