The annual Asian Heritage Month (AHM) at UR marks a month packed with events and activities celebrating appreciating, and raising awareness about Asian culture. The AHM committee, comprised of leaders from several cultural organizations on campus, has planned a variety of events. Most of them are free for UR students, allowing them to enjoy and readily experience the multiple Asian cultures represented here on campus.
“I see AHM serving two purposes for me” co-president of the new UR Japanese Students’ Association (JSA) and freshman George Iwaoka explained. “I want to remind myself of my cultural roots as a Japanese-American since it is easy to forget while growing up in a foreign country.”
Although AHM is generalized into an Asian awareness month, each subgroup offers a unique perspective of Asian culture. Korea Week, hosted by the Korean-American Students’ Association (KASA) during the last week of March, includes multiple activities highlighting Korean pop culture, games, food, and history.
The interactive tag game “Running Man,” based on the popular Korean game show, had students running around Spurrier Hall to steal the nametags attached to the T-shirts of opponent teams. The winner received a grand prize of $250. In addition, minigames such as karaoke and group jump roping had teams scrambling to collect points as well.
Other than Running Man, Korea Week also consisted of other events, including a Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) speaker event and a showing of the Korean movie “Cyrano Agency” supplemented by a buffet of savory Korean food. The first week of AHM will begin with the annual Korea Nite, where multiple dance groups and singers perform both K-Pop and traditional Korean music. Models and actors will present oriental Korean fashion and silly skits on Saturday, March 30.
One exciting week of AHM has already passed, but the next three will continue to hold much in store for the UR community.
JSA, along with Asian-interest Greek groups, Sigma Psi Zeta and Pi Delta Psi, look forward to the second annual Japanese Expo. There, students can sample sushi, learn about the Japanese language, participate in anime cosplay contests, and experience Japanese culture in Rochester.
“We’re going all out for Expo this year,” JSA Co-President and sophomore Koji Muto said. “We’re even introducing an entire sumo wrestling ring where students can wrestle in inflatable suits.”
In addition to east Asian culture, UR’s Association for the Development of Interest in The Indian-Subcontinent (ADITI) promotes South Asian culture and awareness. MELA, ADITI’s biggest event of the year, presents a night of UR’s most lively groups, which exhibit “many art forms that the colorful cultures of South Asia take pride in” according to co-cultural secretary of ADITI and sophomore Rutul Amin.
“We are honored to have MELA as the face of South Asian culture,” he said.
Continuing South Asian cultural awareness throughout the University, UR’s South Asian interest Greek sorority Delta Phi Omega will feature Indian food catered by Tandoor of India.
Along with students taking the stage, Chinese-American comedian Joe Wong will perform during a comedy night hosted by the Chinese Students’ Association (CSA).
Last year, Korean YouTube celebrity singer David Choi swayed hearts on stage while the famous YouTube trio WongFu Productions thrilled UR with their presence in 2011. This year, Joe Wong will hopefully bring hoots and giggles to his audience as he has done in multiple appearances on both the Ellen DeGeneres show and the Late Show with David Letterman.
In between attending culturally enlightening performances and laughing with Wong, UR students have the opportunity to dance with the Filipino-American Students’ Association (FASA) at their tinikling workshop and enjoy refreshing bubble tea beverages after.
Pass the traditional kimonos, hanboks, and hanfus because there will also be a time to dress up towards the end of Asian Heritage Month when Taiwanese-American Students’ Association (TASA) will be hosting their TASA Formal in the Meliora Ballroom.
The final culminating event is the Asian Night Market, which will feature “cultural performances, games, booths, and a fashion show to showcase a variety of traditional Asian clothing” according to co-president of FASA and sophomore Natalie Rae Lopez.
Every affiliated organization will be present to showcase their club and wrap up a month of cultural celebration with an exciting fashion show where club representatives will strut their heritage’s traditional apparel.
Although AHM is just picking up, there is a lot of positive feedback and enthusiasm regarding what the entire month will bring to campus.
“Asian Heritage Month is important and exciting to me,” said KASA publicity chair and freshman Jamie Yim, “I love to celebrate my culture, and I take a lot of pride in it.”
Many students agree. AHM strives to provide the opportunity for students to embrace their culture with pride and celebrate other heritages.
“I had very little Asian influence in my upbringing before college,” explained FASA member and freshman Kathleen Tirador. “Rochester has actually brought me closer to my Asian roots because of the large participation and efforts of the University’s Asian community. You can tell the Asian community is very strong at Rochester, and it’s very encouraging.”
Yoon is a member of
the class of 2016.