Celebration closes out Asian-American spring conference

The weeklong conference educated students about differences in Asian cultures.

by Liala Helal

Even though people are different in culture and origin, we are still the same inside, University student Voltaire Roxas said.

“It’s because of those differences that we can learn something new every day,” he said.

Roxas and others encouraged people to learn about the differences and similarities in Asian cultures Saturday at an event called The Perayaan, a phrase that means “the celebration” in Indonesian. The event ended the Asian-American Student Union’s 26th annual spring conference.

The conference was a weeklong program educating students about different Asian cultures.

Through films, speeches, activities and workshops, such as a sushi-making workshop, the group aimed to spread awareness during the week, said Eric Hung, Asian-American Student Union president.

The union’s affiliate organizations performed cultural and modern performances. The event ended with a fashion show portraying cultural clothing and dances.

“We want to show that, yeah, we have these different cultures, but we’re also modern like anyone else who came to America and assimilated to the culture,” Hung said.

Approximately 250 attendees were welcomed into Coffman Union’s Great Hall with cultural music and elaborate decorations that hung from the ceiling.

The attendees also enjoyed an ethnic dinner with food from different areas in Asia – the Korea peninsula, India, Tibet and Vietnam.

The Asian identity contains numerous cultures, values, countries and national origins, said Brian Kao, Asian-American Student Union education chairman.

“Given that we’re from different countries and origins, we can still speak to one another and understand one another as Asians,” Kao said.

Catherine Wang, the union’s Minnesota Student Association representative, said that while celebrating diversity, the cultures can come together.

The conference specifically takes place in the spring, because it marks the beginning of a new year, said Lulu Huang, Asian-American Student Union secretary.

“It also celebrates spring, because it’s a new year and a new start,” she said.

During the fashion show, University student Maham Farooq showcased the Pakistani attire called “ghararah,” which is made up of a purple top, wide pants embroidered with decorations and a scarf.

She said she learned more about different Asian cultures.

“It’s really cool that there are so many different cultures that can come together in spite of their differences,” Farooq said.

University student Nadirah Dzulkifly, of the Malaysian Students Association, wore a red and beige “baju kedah,” a traditional Malaysian costume, and a “selendang,” a scarf around her shoulders.

She said she learned a lot about cultural traditions.

“It’s good that we have this kind of thing uniting Asians here on campus,” she said.

Jimmy Haung, Asian-American Student Union vice president, said organizing the event “teaches you to be a well-rounded person.” He said he learned a lot about networking and time management.

Chitra Vairavan, co-chairwoman for the group, said she was very happy with the turnout.

“We had lots of fun watching the show unfold,” she said.