Peter Bay of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, acclaimed architect Michael Hsu, and Lesley Varghese of the AARC honored; first historical exhibit on Asian Texans presented; and more “Making History” moments at this sold-out, black-tie event.
Austin, TX – The Asian American Resource Center (AARC) officially opened in September, but it was the community behind the building that was celebrated at the Asian American Resource Center (AARC) Autumn Ball, held on Oct. 26 at the AARC, located at 8401 Cameron Road in northeast Austin.
“This building is [an achievement], but the AARC is not a destination. It’s the process and the people that are involved in the blossoming of the Asian American community in Austin and Travis County,” said Richard Jung, who served as immediate past Chairman of the AARC Board of Directors and is currently a candidate for Travis County Commissioner. Jung and his wife Miri Choi were lead sponsors for the event.
The sold-out, black-tie event highlighted groundbreaking achievements and individuals with the theme: “Making History.” At the center of the AARC Ball was the presentation of the Asian Image Awards recognizing “the creative contributions have changed Austin’s physical and cultural landscape.”
Recipients of the Asian Image Award included Peter Bay, internationally acclaimed conductor of the Austin Symphony Orchestra; Michael Hsu, a leading architect of the “Texas Modern” movement; and surprise honoree Lesley Varghese,AARC Executive Director and General Consul.
“I appreciate my heritage a lot more for what I’ve seen in this building and I am so proud. Thank you for supporting this wonderful building,” said Bay in his acceptance speech. Bay is of Swiss and Filipino heritage.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell served as Honorary Event Chair, along with Event Co-Chairs Joy Authur, Richard Jung, Paul Kim, Jade Chang Sheppard and Lesley Varghese.
Also part of history making were the featured presentation and entertainment.
Irwin Tang, author of “Asian Texans,” presented highlights from the “Asian Texans: Untold Stories” history exhibition which debuted at the AARC Grand Opening on Sept. 28. The exhibit—the first of its kind in the country—explores the history of Asians in Texas dating back to the 1800s up to present day, with many never-seen-before photos.
In addition, lead performers from “Om Shanti” performed several routines from the Bollywood musical, which was the first ever Bollywood production in Texas (performed at the Long Center in August).
Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez also showed off his Bollywood moves to the audience’s delight, reprising a Bollywood dance routine that he had originally performed at a charity event.
Rey Arellano, the new Assistant City Manager for the City of Austin, was introduced as well. Orellano, who is of Filipino heritage, moved to Austin from Tacoma, Washington.
“The unity within the Asian community, given its diversity [sets Austin apart from other cities],” Orellano said. “I really look forward to working with the community and contributing.”
Additionally, Summit Elementary and High School Dragon and Lion Dance Team performed traditional lion and dragon dances. Special guest appearances were made by Miss Pacific Islands 2013 and Mrs. Philippines 2013, Central Texas. Asian cuisine was catered by Ronald Cheng of Chinatown restaurant.
The event was not only a time for celebration and recognition, but also to raise funds for the landmark facility and the Asian American Resource Center nonprofit organization, which creates programming and performs community outreach for the Center.
Some fundraising goals include supporting refuges newly located to Austin, providing assistance with the voter ID law, creating translated documents on civic related services (such as what to do when stopped by a police officer).
About the Asian American Resource Center
In 2006, Austin voters approved a $5 million bond for the construction of the AARC. Groundbreaking for the Center commenced on March 29, 2012 and the center opens to the public with a Grand Opening Celebration on September 28, 2013 at the Center. The AARC is dedicated to the preservation, exhibition, cultivation, and celebration of Asian/Asian American culture and heritage through educational programming and community outreach. The vision is to build a resource center that will increase commerce and showcase the best of Asian/Asian American culture, allowing the community to educate, congregate, and celebrate its heritage. For more about the AARC, visit http://austintexas.gov/aarc
About the AARC nonprofit organization
The Asian American Resource Center Nonprofit Organization was established in 2006 to support the construction and operation of the Asian American Resource Center facility.
Community partnerships are already in place to serve seniors, refugees, Asian American youth, and Austin families of limited English proficiency. With the continued support of the community, the AARC Nonprofit is poised to provide essential community programs at the new facility, while also serving as a cultural and economic bridge between Austin and Asia. For more about the AARC Nonprofit, visit www.facebook.com/AARC.TX.
About the Asian American population in Austin
As of 2010, Asian Americans accounted for 6.5 percent of the population or approximately 50,000 people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Asian Americans are also the fastest growing segment of the population. While the general population of Austin doubles every 20 to 25 years, the number of Asian Americans in Austin is doubling every ten years, according to City projections. Asian Americans are an extremely diverse group, spanning hundreds of subpopulations, languages and religions, and also crossing educational levels and socio-economic status.