The vast continent of Asia has countries and regions with significant cultural differences -- many are on display together this weekend at an Asian-American celebration at Stony Brook University's Wang Center.Music, dance performances and martial arts demonstrations are some of the activities planned for the event, which features the cultures of Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. "We are very diverse," says Jim Young, chairman of the Asian American Advisory Board and professor at Nassau Community College, who is from Taiwan. "Southeast Asia is different from northern Asia. Even myself, I learn a lot every year." The event takes place in the lobby of the Wang Center, which always has its own artistic displays on Asian culture. Here are some things to note:

OPENING CEREMONY

1 p.m.

SBU's Wang Center features new Asian-inspired programs

The event kicks off with the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance before a traditional Lion Dance, performed by students at the Authentic Shaolin Kung Fu school of Holtsville, says owner Gregg Zilb. At least three of his colorful lion costumes will be at the performance, he says, including the red-and-gold one that represents prosperity, and a "baby" lion that symbolizes new growth. "It's absolutely beautiful; the whole cultural environment is," Zilb says. The Lion Dance is followed by a "Parade of Nations," with people of different cultures represented, many in authentic costumes, carrying their flags.

YOUTH PERFORMANCE

1:30 p.m.

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The AAAB/Wellbrook Foundation Youth Orchestra, made up of musicians 10-18 years old, performs a 45-minute concert of music from the Renaissance era through contemporary times, including Mozart and a Taiwanese folk song.

LEARN ABOUT THE NATIONS

2:30-4 p.m.

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Performances from each region will be filled with native songs and dance. The junior culture dance class at Stony Brook Chinese School, ages 5-7, will do a rendition of the short children's dance "Little Apples," while its senior culture class, ages 8-12, will do a traditional ribbon dance. A Bollywood-style Indian dance will be performed as well. Those representing the country of Nepal will be present, but will not perform due to the devastation caused by the recent earthquake there. "Dancing comes from your heart," says Kalpana Thapa, who owns her own beauty service business and is one of the organizers of the show. "You have to be happy to dance." But Nepal will represented along with the other regions at booths with cultural information, arts and crafts, clothing, artifacts, and perhaps some tourism information.

Seventh Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration

WHEN | WHERE 1-5 p.m. Saturday, May 9. Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook University, 100 Nicolls Rd., Stony Brook. The Jasmine Cafe located inside the Wang Center will be open.
INFO 631-853-4738, scaaab.org
ADMISSION Free