31st CES Airman encourages AA&PI heritage month participation Published May 10, 2021 By Airman 1st Class Teisah Kauvaka Vaaimamo 31st Civil Engineer Squadron Aviano Air Base, Italy -- I remember shipping out of Honolulu wearing shorts and slippers. I had my itinerary, 60 dollars, and two spam musubi’s on my way to making the best memories and meeting lifelong friends. Shortly after arriving to basic military training, I quickly learned that I wasn’t there to “hang loose”, “uncle” and “aunty” became “Sir” and “Ma’am”, and that my world wasn’t on “Island time” anymore. It’s a blessing and a curse that the island life and the military share similar customs and courtesies. Being brought up in an environment where culture and respect is the foundation, it’s difficult to go astray from such a way of life, it becomes a natural instinct to jump quickly in to action. Coming from the beautiful tropics of Hawaii, raised in a Samoan household being the oldest of seven children I’ve developed the passion of serving. Being raised in a melting pot, I learned about many different ethnic backgrounds but I wanted more experience. The desire to give and to grasp could only be filled by joining the United States Air Force. The USAF has given me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to share my culture as well. During my two years of service, I’ve grown admiration for the diversity in military. I’ve made friends from places I’ve never been before. I love meeting other Asian Pacific Islanders it feel like a home- away-from-home. The Air Force brings our differences together, not matter where we all come from. Sydney J. Harris said, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows”. During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month I invite everyone to take the opportunity to learn from one another and acknowledge what sets us apart but ultimately what strengthens us as human beings.