Lessons in lion dancing

The Asian-American Student Union teaches about Asian culture in its annual conference this week.

Volunteer Chris Nguyen teaches event attendees how to properly hold and perform the traditional Chinese lion dance at Coffman Union on Monday. The Asian-American Student Union is a hosting a Spring Conference that is running until Saturday the 14th.

Volunteer Chris Nguyen teaches event attendees how to properly hold and perform the traditional Chinese lion dance at Coffman Union on Monday. The Asian-American Student Union is a hosting a Spring Conference that is running until Saturday the 14th.

Colette Bell

 

The Asian-American Student Union celebrates Asian cultures with its 33rd annual spring conference this week.

The conference is held each year in line with ASU’s mission “to provide educational, cultural, social and community activities for students within and outside of the University of Minnesota, and to promote understanding of the diverse Asian/Pacific cultures.”

So far, students have participated in lessons in lion dancing — a well-known part of Chinese New Year celebrations — Bollywood dancing lessons as made popular by the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” and a tea tasting. Both dancing workshops were prefaced with a short teaching of the history behind the dance.

Monday’s session on lion dancing attracted about 15 people. Tuesday’s Bollywood dance nearly doubled in attendance. The majority of participants were Asian-American.

“I figured that the majority of students coming are predominately going to be Asian-American, but for those who aren’t, it’s also a great chance for them to see how we really are,” said Eric Hsu, a neuroscience sophomore and entertainment head for the conference.

Hsu explained that most people have certain perceptions of people from cultures other than their own. The conference is meant to expose the reality of Asian-Americans — “not focusing on books or media, just real things that we can try and practice. That’s really amazing,” said Brenda Wong, a 2011 international business graduate.

The alumna heard about the conference on Facebook. She found the hands-on aspect of the conference more valuable when learning about other cultures.

Architecture senior Jianna Lee said the lion dance was fun and interesting.

The conference will conclude with a banquet Saturday night featuring performances from well-known YouTube artists in the Asian-American community.

Wong Fu Productions, a YouTube production company, will be the keynote speaker. Musical guest Jason Chen will sing while Indian comedian Vijai Nathan performs a set.

Hsu said the group is expecting about 700 people to attend.

To promote the conference, ASU will raffle off a Kindle Fire for those who attend three out of the five workshops throughout the week.

As a student group, ASU aspires for students getting more out of the events than just a prize.

“ASU has been a really great experience for me through my college years, and I hope I could be able to share that with more people,” Hsu said.

 

If you go:

Thursday: Asian Games Night: 6-8 p.m. in Room 303 Coffman Union.

Friday: Bizarre Foods: 5-7 p.m. in Mississippi Room of Coffman Union

Saturday: Banquet: 6-9 p.m. in the Great Hall of Coffman Union (semi-formal attire required)