By Melissa Natividade
With cultural performances and music aplenty, Asian Culture Night, held in the Decker Social Space on Tuesday, Sept. 20, felt like round two of the College’s Student Involvement Fair, except with food — and lots of it.
Organized by TCNJ Barkada, Asian Culture Night raked in some 100 people to get a taste, both literally and figuratively, of various Asian cultures and religions. The event was co-sponsored by nine other Asian organizations on campus.
“The purpose of this event when it first started two years ago was really to unite this community,” said Arianne Ramos, Barkada president and a senior psychology major. “We wanted the event to get all of the Asian clubs collaborating and integrating because even though we all do our own thing, we definitely share a common thread. In the future, we want this event to be a way for Asian-American students on campus to get to know how they can get involved.”
Whether students are interested in performance clubs, such as TCNJ Chinese Student Association’s Dragonflies and TCNJ Taiko, or culture-oriented clubs, such as Barkada and the Asian American Association, the possibilities are endless. There are even a few religion-based clubs on campus, including Barkada Blessed and the Asian American Christian Fellowship.
“This year, we also had religious groups like the Asian American Christian Fellowship come out,” Ramos said. “Obviously, culture is super important when getting in touch with your roots, but so is religion, so we thought that incorporating these clubs would definitely add to the event.”
With all of the food and the cultural performances, it wasn’t surprising to find so many students packed into the Decker Social Space for the event. Even those with no Asian cultural ties came out to Asian Culture Night.
“I actually don’t take any of these languages,” said Tom Balcavage, a junior economics major. “But a friend of mine told me about the event and I heard there were dumplings, so I figured why not? It’s been really nice so far, though. I really like all the unity between the clubs and the students. It’s super casual.”
With videos of their previous events circling on the projection screen in the background, Rebekah Chung, a junior urban education and psychology double major, told attendees about the College’s Asian American Christian Fellowship organization.
“I think we’re a really different and interesting club,” Chung said. “We meet once a week like most clubs, but our main mission is to really just encourage each other. Each week we read a chapter and pray together, but in a very casual setting. What we want is for students to have a comfortable atmosphere to get to know this religion just a little bit better.”
The goal of the event was to showcase Asian talent and deconstruct harmful stereotypes of Asian culture.
“Like all of the clubs here, we really want to bring authentic Japanese culture to light,” said TJ Branin, a Japanese Student Association member and junior accounting major. “We want to showcase actual Japanese culture because even though we do incorporate the concepts of anime and sushi, there is a lot more to be learned from the culture.”
Though the Indian Student Association could not make it out to this year’s event, Ramos said there are plans in the works to incorporate the group, along with some sororities, fraternities and dance groups associated with Indian culture, in next year’s Asian Culture Night.