Airman experiences culture first-hand

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Growing up I was never exposed to other cultures. I came from a small town in rural Pennsylvania, where everyone was the same. Everyone looked the same, acted the same, talked the same and had the same life experiences as I did. It wasn’t until I met and married my wife, Darling, that I learned about the many wonderful aspects of the Asian American Pacific Islander culture. My wife is originally from the Philippines and her heritage is Filipino.

Prior to Aug. 27, 2013, the date when Darling and I got married, I didn’t know much about the Filipino culture, except the limited information my parents told me about their loyalty to family and country. In the Filipino culture, family connections are very strong. My wife is very close to her family. She calls her parents daily and visits as often as possible. I found this unique because I may go weeks or even months without speaking to my parents.

Something else different are the customs surrounding marriage. When we were discussing marriage, I learned I had to ask permission of almost every person in her family before we could marry. Her mother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, brothers and sister gave their blessing and approval.

After we were married, we lived with her family for six months. This was quite an experience for me. I always had personal space and privacy. I saw first-hand that sharing and taking care of others was very important and a tradition to my new family. I learned that a traditional family unit in the Philippines consists of all the family members living together under one roof. To this day, my mother-in-law provides financial support to family members living in her home.

Darling and I have now been married for four years. I am fortunate to have learned, in a personal way, about the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage. I look forward to gaining more insight and sharing what I have learned with others.

For more information about Asian American Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, visit www.deomy.org or visit the Equal Opportunity SharePoint at https://dm.eim.acc.hedc.af.mil/355FW/EO/default.aspx.