The Burmese community recently hosted a community awards dinner as part of a celebration of 30 years of the Burmese community in Central Indiana. Over 100 outstanding individuals and organizations who have significantly impacted and contributed to the development of the Burmese community were honored.
“It’s a testament to your resilience… hard work… and the bonds forged here in Indiana,” said Governor Eric Holcomb in his video keynote. “I want to acknowledge the Burmese American Community Institute’s dedication to education and vocational assistance as their efforts have not only empowered individuals and families … but have also contributed to the broader prosperity of our state”
Governor Holcomb proclaimed last July as Burmese American Community Month to recognize the more than 40,000 Burmese Hoosiers who call Indiana home and to recognize their achievements as well.
At the event, awards were presented to outstanding persons and organizations who have not only distinguished themselves in service and achievement, but also meaningfully contributed to the development of the Burmese community. The honorees included the first 30 persons who resettled in Indianapolis, First Person Achievement Award winners (educational and professional careers), and Most Outstanding Persons Award winners.
“At this historic milestone, we celebrate our collective success in our shared community for the greater good,” said Elaisa Vahnie, BACI executive director. “We are grateful and thankful to the American people and to our Hoosier neighbors for welcoming us with open arms and allowing us to start our new lives here, reflecting American leadership, compassion and the giving of hope to many, including thousands of refugees and newcomers like the Burmese.”
“The successes and positive impact we see today in our community are a testament to the ways in which we have come together and forged collaborative partnerships.”
Over 20 mainstream organizations and individuals who have significantly contributed to the advancement of the Burmese Community were recognized, including educational institutions, health providers, government entities and social service providers.
“I am the Secretary of State of Indiana and the first Hispanic and Latino elected to statewide office in the history of Indiana. The first man of color elected as Secretary of State. The first immigrant Secretary of State in the nation, in all of the United States of America from Indiana. You tell me if that’s not progress,” said Diego Morales, secretary of the State of Indiana in his remarks. “This room is full of dedicated leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs,” he continued.
First Person Achievement Awards were presented to 13 business owners as the first persons to start their respective businesses and pioneers in the Burmese community. Over 100 small businesses have been started and are being run by Burmese Americans in Indianapolis.
Senator Todd Young in his video remarks reassured his support for peace and democracy in Myanmar.
“Burma has made great strides toward democratic governance, and while this coup is a setback, it will not be the end of the story, I assure you…the Burmese American community is an important part of the fabric of our state and the crisis in Burma remains a priority for me,” said Senator Todd Young, who also sits on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Along with Senator Young, the late Senator Richard D. Lugar, U.S. Congressman André D. Carson and Indiana University Bloomington were also honored as Outstanding Community Partners for their outstanding partnership, distinguished service and contributions to the Burmese community as well as to peace and democracy in Myanmar (Burma).
During this remarkable event, Education Achievement Awards were also presented to those in the Burmese Community of Central Indiana who have earned master’s or Doctoral degrees.
The event concluded with BACI Board Chair Dr. Ro Ding urging all partners and members of the community to continue working together in unity and love, furthering the shared mission of building a stronger and better community for all, while Rev. Stephen Hre Kio, who also was honored as the Most Influential Faith Leader, gave a benediction.
Hosted at the CEBC Life Center, the event was attended by over 250 members of the community, including community elders, elected officials, dignitaries, faith and civic leaders, and stakeholders representing various educational institutions, as well as government and nonprofit agencies.