Month of themed activities celebrates Asian culture, heritage

BY SHUNQI GAO ’16
Staff Writer

This year’s Asian Awareness Month is being held March 25 to April 13 and features a variety of events hosted by the Asian Cultural Society (ACS) to spread awareness and greater understanding of Asian culture.

The Asian Culture Society Game Show on March 25 marked the start of Awareness Month.

“The funniest event is the ACS game show,” said Xinwei Li ’15, president of ACS. “We not only asked about Asian facts — for example, how many ethnic groups are there in China or how many islands in Philippines are inhabited — but we also asked about stereotypes, such as if Asians eat rice everyday or if all Asians sing karaoke.”

According to her, such game shows that include stereotypes serve the role of disproving common myths about Asian culture and also of promoting a more complex understanding of the area’s culture.

“When a lot of people repeat the stereotype over and over again, [which can be true once in a while], people will focus on only one story,” Li said. “We not only do kung fu but also have movie stars. The aim was to give a more comprehensive picture.”

She thinks that the game show was not only a place where multiple stories of Asia were told, it also encouraged everyone present to tell their own stories.

Also in the game show were questions about Asian culture today, and how Asian culture is promoted on campus.

Asian Bazaar, another event in the series, took place on Saturday, April 6. People from different Asian countries were invited to represent their home lands. Each group was given 10 dollars for food, calligraphy, game shows, and other activities to attract people to its booth.

“We want them to be creative and come up with a way that can best represent where they are from,” Li said. “We gave each participant a passport to collect stamps. This will also draw the kids from the community to come and learn about Asian cultures.”

Upcoming events include a screening and discussion of the film The Last Train Home, which is the second event in a newly initiated program called Asia Talks. The film will be shown on Wednesday, April 10 in the Ware Great Room, and the discussion will be led by Linda Hasunuma, assistant professor of government.

“It’s a film about Chinese migrant workers,” Li said. “They come to the city for a better life. But they are lost in the cities due to lack of facilities and the restrictions based on their status. This is not only ‘Asian’ Asian culture; it is also one of the contemporary social issues in a majority of Asian countries.”

The series will end with the Cherry Blossom Festival trip to Washington D.C on April 13, which Li strongly encourages club members to attend.

“Because the weather delayed the blossom, this year students are very lucky because the festival will take place in the best time of cherry blossom,” Li explained.

Finally, Li expressed her hope that more students will join the events of ACS, especially the cultural-related events she has been trying to promote. For many years the club focused on more food-related events, which saw a consistently high turnout.

“As a member of ACS — and the president — I really hope that in the cultural-related discussions, we welcome students from all ethnic backgrounds,” Li said. “ACS is not only for Asian students. We welcome everybody.”

Questions? Email Shunqi at sgao@fandm.edu.

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