On Feb. 12, 2019, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders hosted a Lunar New Year Celebration in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House. In attendance were Asian American and Pacific Islander community leaders from across the country and territories, and federal government officials. The event kicked off with senior Trump Administration officials providing welcome remarks and sharing economic and industry priorities, followed by vibrant cultural performances.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Michelle Giuda shared her personal story leading to her role at the State Department. She also explained the State Department’s involvement in the ASEAN region. U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos provided words of congratulations and support to the participants.
A number of senior officials provided an update on the administration’s economic and strategic policies. Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council Andrew Olmem and National Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency Henry Childs engaged in an economic armchair dialogue about the current booming economy and historic low unemployment rates, and how communities can support opportunity zones.
Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives Brooke Rollins shared how her work in Texas, growing the state’s economy and reducing unemployment, is now part of strategic initiatives for the White House and for America. Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination Chris Liddell highlighted industries of the future, including artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing, and how America could lead the way in these fields.
Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Holly Ham concluded the first part of the program with remarks about the strength of our country and its positive impact on the AAPI community.
Cultural performances followed, beginning with a dual lion dance from the Washington Chinese Youth Club. The lion dance is typically performed during this festive occasion to chase away evil spirits and welcome in prosperous times. The Miss Saigon Dance Team followed with a dance performance depicting the Vietnamese heritage through traditional music, dress and movement.
Next, the Taiwanese Chamber Orchestra of D.C. used a combination of traditional Chinese and western instruments to perform musical pieces from Taiwan. These pieces were composed by DONG Ron-Sen. To showcase historical costumes from different dynasties, a Hanfu fashion show by the Chinese Culture Institute displayed elaborate costumes. To conclude the cultural performances, the Korean American Foundation of Greater Washington presented various Korean Nanta drum dance performances and the Monk Dance against the backdrop of the Indian Treaty Room.
Special guest Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway helped close the day’s program by greeting everyone and warmly welcoming in the Lunar New Year. The entire program and celebration was an educational, informative and fun way to ring in the Year of the Pig!
Happy Lunar New Year!
To see more photos from the Lunar New Year Celebration, click here.
Debra Suarez is senior adviser at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.