Along with the spring breeze came the flavors of Asian street food from the Asia Night Market in Talley Student Union’s Mountains Ballroom, bringing attention to Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month at NC State from March 15 – April 15, 2018.
For the third year, NC State celebrated this Heritage Month with efforts from Asian student organizations and support from campus offices, extending the observance from one week to a full month. Additionally, events to celebrate the Desi American population added a new dimension this year. Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) worked directly with Asian students on campus to assist with the celebrations.
Officially, the national month of celebration occurs in May to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad by many Chinese laborers on May 10, 1869. Because of the academic calendar, NC State invited all students to enjoy APIDA Heritage Month from March 15 to April 15 with the theme “Join Us at the Table.” The theme originated from cultural aspects found in many Asian communities – sharing a feast together for grand celebrations.
During the month, 17 programs covered cultural celebrations, handcraft workshops, a keynote speaker and gender equality discussions.
Hawaii Night, Oak City Revolution, Viet Night and Asia Night, which was hosted by Japan Club, Ektaa (the South Asian student organization), the Vietnamese Student Association and the Asian Student Association, presented cultural performances and traditions from across the Asian continent and the Pacific. Along with cultural celebrations, the Hmong Students Association instructed students in embroidery, the Japan Club and Origami Club provided a tea art and origami tutorial and the Confucius Institute presented open classes guiding participants in Chinese calligraphy. The handcraft workshops provide popular among students.
By student request, MSA invited the first Indian-American Senator in North Carolina, Senator Jay Chaudhuri, to present this year’s keynote address. As a second-generation immigrant, Chaudhuri shared his experience and vision to help more Asian immigrants.
The month’s events also celebrated equality. The GLBT Center and Women’s Center invited both domestic and international students to attend their film screening of I Am, which chronicled the journey of an Indian lesbian filmmaker, and Feminist Friday, discussing gender equality in Indian and Chinese society.
Marcela Torres-Cervantes, assistant director for community outreach and engagement in Multicultural Student Affairs, said, “It is our first year serving and advising Asian student organizations, and we are still learning from them and working hard to earn more opportunities and provide more assistance for them.” MSA looks forward to working on planning APIDA Heritage Month for next year.
Wenli Liu is a graduate assistant in Multicultural Student Affairs.