By Gabriella Parracho
Asian Culture Night helped break down stereotypical barriers, where students gathered in the Brower Student Center on Tuesday, Sept. 12, to try new food, enjoy cultural performances and learn about the various organizations that make up the College’s Asian community.
TCNJ Barkada, the Filipino student association on campus, hosted the event. Other organizations involved included the Asian American Association, Chinese Students Association and Korean Students Association.
Nicole Bulawin, a sophomore nursing major and vice president of Barkada, said the purpose of the organization is to “represent the Filipino culture and share it with everyone on campus.”
According to Barkada’s mission statement on Facebook, the organization “(promotes) greater recognition and awareness of the Filipino culture, history, and heritage to the TCNJ community.”
Not only does the club promote the Filipino heritage, but it also focuses on creating meaningful friendships amongst its members.
“Barkada in Tagalog, one of the Filipino dialects, means ‘a group of friends,’” said Joseph Ballesteros, external affairs vice president of Barkada and a junior nursing major. “Barkada serves as an important place for Filipinos to gather. You find people who grew up with similar and even different experiences.”
Even students who are not of Asian descent are invited to join Barkada and other Asian organizations at the College.
“It’s a place for people that are not Filipino to come and learn about our culture and find a new family on campus,” Ballesteros said.
Alyssa Jackson, a junior communications studies major, is a member of Barkada who is not of Filipino descent. She agreed that she felt accepted and included by the club.
“The people here are really fun, I feel like I really found my family in this club,” she said.
The Chinese Students Association was also at the event offering a variety of food and its dance ensemble, Dragonflies.
Hubert Hsu, a senior nursing major and vice president of CSA, was enthusiastic to discuss the organization’s mission and what the night meant to the club.
“We enjoy working with other cultural clubs, especially like Barkada,” Hsu said. “We do events like this to spread awareness of our cultures and we want our members to intergrade with members of other cultures.”
Hsu added that CSA hosts several events throughout the course of the year such as CSAT House and Chinese New Year to spread the organization and Chinese heritage around campus.
Kokikai Aikido, another organization present, promotes using self defense peacefully. According to the club’s profile on Lion’s Gate, its goal is to “equip the community with self defense skills, as well as confidence, personal understanding, positive attitude and a respect for others through martial arts.”
Alena Osborn, a junior biology major and member of Kokikai Aikido, explained the positive impact that club has made in her life.
“What we learn in class is also very applicable to everyday life,” Osborn said. “One of the points we learn in class is one body one mind, it’s about maintaining balance in your own life as well.”
Asian Culture Night showcased a variety of performances that brought together both the College’s Asian community and students wanting to learn more about the culture.