By Jess Bell
Filled with the smell of delicious cuisine, the T/W Lounge erupted with excitement as students gathered for the Pan-Asian Alliance’s annual Multicultural Buffet on Wednesday, Nov. 2.
The line of students patiently waiting to be served authentic Asian dishes, which cannot be found elsewhere on campus, stretched outside the lounge entrance and wrapped around the hallway. Students were clearly happy to join in this cultural celebration at the College.
Performances by TCNJ Jiva, TCNJ Barkada’s Tinikling, TCNJ Chinese Student Association’s Dragonflies and TCNJ Taiko were another highlight of the night.
Drums pounded while a flute melodically intertwined with the beats during Taiko’s two-song set. Occasionally, students playing the drums would let out a brief yell, known in Japanese as “kiai.”
“We do this as an expression of excitement,” said Gin Allcock, president of Taiko and a senior English and interactive multimedia double major. “(Kiai is) all about expressing yourself and exciting the audience.”
The dedication and effort that went into planning the Multicultural Buffet was evident in all aspects of the event.
“We have been preparing for this event for months, and it’s great to finally see it happening,” said Donna Jung, a member of the Korean Student Association and a freshman accounting major.
Jung explained the importance of exposing other students to Asian clubs through the buffet, which acts as a means of interactive promotion for these groups.
During the event, TCNJ Barkada skillfully presented Tinkling, the national dance of the Philippines that involves dancers jumping between bamboo sticks to the beat of music.
Alexa Sia, a member of TCNJ Barkada and a junior nursing major, attested to the hard work of the dance team. She said the group is self-choreographed and picks its own music. Sia also said that TCNJ Barkada gives a modern twist to the dances they perform.
A mix of traditional performance styles with a more contemporary feel was a common theme at the event. The Indian dance team, Jiva, presented some beautifully executed classical moves while “Work” by Rihanna played as a spirited backing track.
“We provide a fun mix and apply our dancing to music people already know in order to make it more relatable,” said Sreya Doddakashi, a member of Jiva and a junior economics major.
While the performances took place, students crammed into every corner of the lounge and ate contently, holding overflowing plates of food.
The buffet offered an incredible combination of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Indian and Korean food for just $3 a plate. Taiwanese drinks and bubble tea cost an additional dollar.
Students walked down the seemingly never-ending line of food trays, choosing delicacies neatly categorized by their country of origin. Members of each cultural organization were eager to explain the food they were serving and beamed with pride as each helping was delivered.
Junior nursing major Michelle Lee said she especially enjoyed the lo mein, curry and sushi offered at the buffet.
“My favorite part was watching all the different performances while stuffing my face with food,” Lee said. “The experience was definitely worth taking part in.”