Celebrate Asia Festival showcases the richness and depth of Asian culture

About the Author: Kintan Silvany is an Indonesian-American Philadelphian and rising junior at Case Western University in Cleveland Ohio studying International Affairs. This summer, she served as a Mayor’s Intern at the Office of Immigrant Affairs. Read more about Kintan here

Whenever people inquire about my origins, I proudly respond, “Philadelphia!” Is it because of the mouthwatering cheesesteaks or the city’s walkable charm? While these are undoubtedly wonderful aspects, they’re not the heart of the matter. While our city boasts famous culinary delights and accessible streets, what truly makes Philadelphia special is the vibrant communities that call it home.

Just like immigrants from numerous other countries, my Indonesian family, who immigrated from Surabaya, has become part of Philadelphia’s melting pot of cultures. From the tantalizing restaurants that serve up our cherished traditional dishes to the support services tailored to address immigration concerns, we have fashioned a haven that truly feels like a home away from home.

As we eagerly anticipate the upcoming Celebrate Asia Festival and the exciting program of events showcasing Philly’s diverse immigrant population, I seized the opportunity to engage in a captivating conversation with Dewi Broadhurst, a fellow Indonesian-American who happens to be one of the event’s main organizers. She also serves as a commissioner on the Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (MCAPAA), dedicating herself to fostering inclusivity and understanding among Philadelphia’s diverse communities. In our interview, Dewi shared insights about the festival, its significance, and the remarkable initiatives being championed by MCAPAA.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the creation of Celebrate Asia? How did the idea for the festival come about, and what specific goals do you aim to achieve through this event?

A: Celebrate Asia was born out of the desire to give back to the community after the pandemic, especially considering the rise of racism, bullying, and discrimination against Asians. The festival aims to showcase the richness of Asian culture beyond stereotypes, highlighting the diversity within the Asian continent comprising 48 countries. Our goal is to break down misconceptions, celebrate various cultures and traditions, and promote unity among different ethnicities.

*Q: What does the concept of “welcoming” mean to you personally? In your opinion, what sets Philadelphia apart as a welcoming city for diverse communities, including Asian Americans?*

A: Welcoming, to me, means creating an environment where people from all walks of life, regardless of their background, feel accepted and valued. Philadelphia stands out as a welcoming city because of its history of embracing immigrants and its commitment to helping individuals achieve the American dream. This city’s warmth and inclusivity are evident in its support for various communities, including Asian Americans.

*Q: As someone involved in fostering community inclusion, what are your hopes and aspirations for the Asian American community in Philadelphia? How do you envision their growth and progress in the city?*

A: I hope to see the Asian American community in Philadelphia collaborate within itself to empower one another and, in turn, uplift the surrounding communities. The city’s unique support system for immigrants helps create an environment where the Asian American community can thrive and contribute to the city’s growth and diversity. Our long-term vision is to maintain our relationship with the Office of Immigrant Affairs in order to remain committed to reaching out to the community and minimizing the community’s vulnerability to crime. We also aim to see increased collaboration among Asian American businesses, promoting economic growth and community empowerment.

*Q: In what ways have you witnessed the flourishing of your own culture in Philadelphia, and how has this influenced your personal connection with your cultural identity?*

A: The flourishing of Asian businesses, particularly through events like Celebrate Asia, has helped increase the acknowledgment and visibility of our cultures. Witnessing the growth of Indonesian and other Asian small businesses fosters a sense of pride and connection with my own cultural identity, reminding me of the richness of our heritage.

*Q: As a commissioner on the Mayor’s Commission of Asian American Pacific Affairs, what accomplishments make you the proudest? Is there a particular achievement or impact that stands out to you during your time serving in this role?*

A: One of my proudest accomplishments was organizing a town meeting to address the challenges faced by our Asian community, especially during a period of increased crime targeting our members. This effort allowed us to work collaboratively with law enforcement and the community to find solutions and enhance safety. Additionally, partnering with Mural Arts to create an Asian mural at Hardena Restaurant was a significant achievement, not only beautifying the neighborhood but also supporting artists from the Asian community and promoting cultural representation.

The Celebrate Asia Festival is not just an event; it’s a celebration of unity, heritage, and the remarkable contributions of Asian cultures to our city’s vibrant mosaic. Join us as we come together to revel in the beauty of diversity and embrace the shared experiences that bind us all. Mark your calendars, spread the word, and let’s make this festival an unforgettable tribute to the rich tapestry of Asian culture in Philadelphia!

Welcoming Week Spotlight page: Welcoming Week honors the contributions of immigrant people and recognizes that our communities are stronger and more prosperous when we are welcoming. For over seven years, Philadelphia has shown its commitment to this national cause by coordinating events throughout the city.