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Celebrate Central Florida success stories during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

ORLANDO, Florida. – Central Florida is home to a vibrant Asian American Pacific Islander population. If you meet someone from the AAPI community, they could be from a number of different countries with completely different cultures.

It is a large, diverse group of people from countries such as China, South Korea, Vietnam, Hawaii, Fiji, Polynesia, and India. Even some people from the Caribbean are considered AAPI.

Those of Indian descent are called Indo-Caribbeans and have influenced both cultures.

Arianna Thackurdeen, 19, was born and raised in Orlando, attends UCF and is a singing sensation in Central Florida's Indian-Caribbean community. Her father is from Guyana and her mother is from Trinidad and Tobago.

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“I sing Bollywood music with a modern twist, more in the West Indian or Caribbean style,” said Thackurdeen.

She even composed a song and music video that pays tribute to her hometown of Orlando and where she's from. She started singing mainstream music but wanted to share her heritage, and now her music can be found on platforms like Apple and Spotify.

In addition to music, she also wants to convey other aspects of Indian culture.

“I think the true representation of Indian goods, Indian heritage and Indian culture is very, very important because many people know the clothes, the language, the films and songs, but don't necessarily know what they mean,” Thackurdeen said.

There were many events celebrating the achievements of the AAPI community in Central Florida.

The first-ever Asian American and Pacific Islander Awards Luncheon was recently hosted by the Asian American Chamber of Commerce along with several community partners.

The keynote speaker was Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge Denise Kim Beamer, the first Korean-American district judge in the state of Florida.

Christine Burke is president of the Asian-American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida.

“Central Florida is actually the fastest growing community and therefore the Chinese, Indian, Filipino and Vietnamese are by far the largest populations,” Burke said.

China Town on West Colonial Drive in Orlando and the Orange Blossom Trail near the Florida Mall are great places to learn about the culture and contributions of the APPI community in Central Florida.

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Anna Harden

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