AAA kicks off Experience Asia month with FantAsia

The Asian American Association (AAA) held FantAsia, an assortment of cultural workshops to promote Experience Asia, the November phenomenon celebrating Asian culture with events, speakers, and other workshops, Friday night in the Cromwell lounge.

Thoa Nguin, junior early elementary education and psychology major, as well as Vice President of Internal Affairs of AAA and organizer of FantAsia, estimated that more than 100 people visited the free event between 8 p.m. and midnight to enjoy refreshments, entertainment, and learn something about Asian culture in the process.

FantAsia kicked off with a demonstration from the Aikido Club. According to the club’s Web site, “Kokikai Aikido practice is characterized by realistic, focused attacks, fluid responses that employ timing and rhythm to take the opponent’s balance completely before the application of a throwing technique.” It uses “the minimum effort necessary to achieve maximum results.”

The demonstration left John Larocco, freshman bio-medical engineering major, wanting more. Larocco, who sometimes writes for the AAA newsletter, said the exhibition ended “too abrupt[ly].”

Members of AAA also took the opportunity to promote other big Experience Asia events later in the month, said Katrina Wong, senior elementary education and mathematics major and President of AAA.

“They were promoting Mystique of the East by performing Todo Todo, which is Filipino line dancing,” she said.

Other attendees learned traditional Indian dancing from AAA members in traditional Indian dress.

Wong also helped some students translate sayings to determine Chinese letters to draw on their bodies with henna, a dye used to make decorative designs on the skin. At the same table, people participated in origami, the art of paper folding, creating animals with provided squares of paper.

Neil Sumter, sophomore interactive multimedia major, occupied one corner of the lobby much of the night, dominating the competition in Dance Dance Revolution, a video game in which players are on a platform with four arrows and must step on the corresponding arrow as it scrolls up from the bottom of the screen.

“I just came here to hang out with friends and play,” Sumter said. “I’m very deprived,” he said of the rare opportunity to play DDR.

“I’m eventually going to check out the other stuff,” he said. “It’s very much a stress-free evening. I don’t have to think about work.”

Larocco also came to learn and play some of the many traditional Asian games offered at FantAsia. Attendees gathered for games of Chinese checkers, Chinese poker, and Mah Jongg, “a fascinating game [that is] played with domino like tiles, and is quite similar to the popular card game of Rummy,” according to

Genghis Tan, freshman English major, sat tableside, watching one student teach another Go, a Japanese game of strategy. Tan said the event was “pretty interesting” and he enjoys being a member of AAA.

“I get to hang out with people who kind of share the same way of life because of our parents and how we were raised,” he said.

Experience Asia kicked off on November 1 with a ceremony in the Brower Student Center atrium. Also preceding FantAsia was a food workshop in which participants learned to make easy Asian dishes that don’t require a stove.

The next event on the AAA calendar is the True Colors round table discussion of the current issues, stereotypes and concerns of Asian Americans in the Allen Drawing Room on Thursday at 7 p.m. The following night you can check out “Stir-Friday Night!” featuring an Asian-American comedy troupe from Chicago in the Student Center room 202 at 8 p.m.

On November 15, “Better Luck Tomorrow,” a film about a group of Asian American friends who wreak havoc in their high school, will be shown in the Cromwell main lounge at 8 pm. Then, on November 18, Parry Shen, the star of “Better Luck Tomorrow,” will speak about his experience as an Asian American male actor in Hollywood at 8 pm in the music building theater.

Other Experience Asia events include: a calligraphy workshop where students will have the opportunity to make personalized greeting cards with Chinese calligraphy on November 16; Baking for Humanity, where participants will bake desserts for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen’s Thanksgiving dinner on November 21; a viewing of “American Chai,” a film about Indian American college student who harbors a dirty secret (his father thinks he’s a pre-med major, but he’s really a music major!); and the AAA will be part of the multicultural buffet on December 1.