ATG Co-Director of Community Outreach Hue Dao and Ambassador Carol Nguyen returned to participate as workshop presenters at the Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Camp (SEAPI) on August 1-4. This is their shared experience at camp and how the ATG team made an impact on this year’s events.
“We were given such a warm welcome on our return to SEAPI Heritage Camp this year. Many organizers and parents were excited to be assigned to help us teach NINE workshops throughout the weekend. We were told that being ATG assistants are a coveted role each year! This was the first time we were teaching in the Longhouse cabin, which was a challenging space due to it not being a true kitchen. However, our coordinator Kristi Kremer made sure we had everything we needed way in advance, and the space was set-up with butane burners, pans, and all the cooking utensils for class.
We taught a diverse range of ages, 1st graders to high schoolers, and a few cooking classes for adults. The theme for 2019 was “Sights & Sounds of SEAPI,” so we spoke about how along with our sense of taste, the senses of sight and hearing also play important roles in how we enjoy eating food. The goal was for everyone to make and decorate a stuffed rice balls that would then be judged on use of color, texture, and creativity. Some of the techniques we taught were how to flip food in a pan, seasoning the filling, stuffing the rice balls, and prepping veggies a variety of ways to enable fun decorations. We were even taught our adult campers how to make puffed rice noodles! The process for each workshop included: 1) make the stuffed rice balls, 2) decorate the base and anchor of the plate, 3) decorate the rice balls. We were so impressed by all the fun creations (many cute animals)! We were touched when several parents came to us afterwards to say that their kids were excited to try making them together at home. After our final workshop, we still had toasted almonds left, so we taught an impromptu class on how to make a smoky/salty almond brittle.
The schedule on Saturday allowed a few free hours for Hue to participate in the annual and epic Songkran (water balloon fight)! The ability to breathe in fresh air, view mountains in the background, and delightfully chuck a water balloon at your camp bestie as they are distracted while refilling their water canon — pure delight.
As the camp continues to grow and incorporate more culture from other countries in Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands, we continually meet and connect with other organizations and families that help bring authenticity to the camp. On Friday night, we were invited to the Thai cabin, and were treated to a delicious homemade meal of larb and Thai beef jerky. After a lovely conversation that lasted well into the evening, their generosity extended to giving us their extra garlic for our workshop, and a full bag of homegrown mint. On Saturday, we were invited to the Filipino cabin for a traditional boodle fight. The preparation for this bounty had taken all day and included fresh fruits (pineapple, jack fruit, mangos), fried fish, panic, chicken adobo, beef and vegetable stir fry, lumpia, purple potato, stews, cassava cakes, and fried coconut mochi. It was a feast for our eyes and our souls.
The final night was as festive as ever. The gala showcased a huge team of dragon and lion dancers, a hip hop dance troupe from California, and a hilarious skit performed by the campers. The goodbyes were emotional as we see them all growing up each year, standing taller, and asking more poignant questions. As always, we were humbled to be asked to share our knowledge with Heritage Camp. But we will always lovingly play our part in teaching and encouraging pride in heritage and identity.”
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