by APCSS Public Affairs
“Hi. My name is Robin and I have never had chicken pox,” began the tale of Robin Burrell. “On a more serious note, I’d also like to share something deeply personal that you must promise not to ever tell,” she adds “I… am a Lord of the Rings (LOTR) fan…atic.”
This may sound a little like what one would hear on a social networking site, but some may find the information even more remarkable.
Robin is one of the 47 women employees at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) who took time out of their busy schedules this month to celebrate “Women’s History Month” in a quirky and unconventional way. Instead of the usual “pot luck” lunch or celebration on the lanai, a few APCSS employees came up with the idea to capture a “snapshot” of each woman’s perspective on life entitled “Today’s Featured Woman,” to share with all other APCSS employees.
Diana Kammunkun, chief of the administration management office at APCSS, was the brainchild of the idea. “During Women’s History Month, we reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honor their role in shaping the course of our nation’s history,” explained Kammukun. “Here at APCSS we have many extraordinary women who make great contributions to our APCSS mission daily.”
“The idea came about because being able to spend time with people is difficult in a fast paced environment like APCSS,” she continued. “Although we have several social events not everyone is able to attend, or people tend to stay within their own groups. However, if people had an opportunity to read about each other when they had time they might find out they have common interests, then new opportunities for dialogue and friendship could open. ”
These personal expressions shared by APCSS women consisted of old photos, poems, likes and dislikes, philosophies, chronologies of their lives, and it can included anything they wanted to share and was offered variety of formats, then e-mailed out to the entire organization. One example, from the chief of public affairs was a screen capture from her Facebook page. Another, included “refrigerator art” from her 8-year-old son. A quote was shared by yet another that read “Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.”
Associate Professor Jessica Ear had a very unique story to tell, although her full story would proabably fill a very large book. As a refugee from Cambodia, her birth records were lost during the war and she later spent two years in a refugee camp in Indonesia. She also descended from a very famous bloodline.
“My family and I are descendants from the female warrior clan of China from which Disney based its cartoon character, ‘Mulan.'” This could mean Disney movie royalties coming my way,” she joked. As a faculty member at APCSS, Ear focuses on Human Security, Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, Civil Societies and Development, Rule of Law. Prior to her arrival at APCSS, she was a Humanitarian Operations Advisor at the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs in Honolulu. Read her faculty bio.
APCSS conference coordinator Cherrielynn Kamahele is a commanding presence on outreach events as she must coordinate, monitor and execute events in exquisite detail. Yet her actions reveal her kindness and generousity when she’s away from the Center. She is the fundraising chairperson with the Leeward Pilot Club for numerous projects including the Women’s Abuse Shelter and Special Olympics. She also is involved with helping with her community homeless brethren. However, her true joy is explained in this excerpt from her story: “My precious moments are spent with the love of my life, my weekend HOT date. We spend time going to the movies and he is my partner at weekend functions,” said Kamahele of her 6-year-old grandson.
The idea appeared to be a big hit with other APCSS employees.
“I found the articles interesting, entertaining and inspiring,” said Dave Coleman, APCSS Librarian. “All of which continues to give credence to the quote, ‘Women hold up half the sky.'”
Military personnel assigned to APCSS also were intrigued by the shared information. “The daily clips have ranged from informational to educational, but all have beeen enriching and entertaining to read.” added U.S. Air Force Maj. Steven Syngajewski.
Some APCSS women employees were apprehensive about sharing their stories at first, but saw how interesting and fun it looked and it caught on quickly.
“I work with many people from various departments, but didn’t know too many on a personal level,” explained Deb Castro, of the APCSS visual information deptartment. “I found it very interesting to read about other women’s backgrounds, families and hobbies that I wanted to share a little bit about myself as well.”
APCSS employs 86 personnel, 47 of which are women with seven in supervisory positions, including the Dean of the College Amb. Lauren Kahea Moriarty. Since 2007, four APCSS women have attended the Federal Executive Board’s Senior Leaders course and seven APCSS women have attended the Emerging Leaders course.
“We’re extremely proud of all of our women and men,” said APCSS Deputy Director Army Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James T. Hirai. “Day in and day out, they are among the best DoD has to offer and consistently execute our educational mission flawlessly.”
The APCSS is a U.S. Department of Defense academic institute addressing regional and global security issues. Its mission is to educate, connect, and empower security practitioners to advance Asia-Pacific security. Military and civilian representatives of predominantly Asia-Pacific nations participate in comprehensive programs of executive education, professional exchanges and outreach events throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Since opening in 1995, the Center has had representatives from 96 countries; territories and international organization attend courses for a total of 5,726 alumni.