The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Asian Student Union fundraises for the Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Foundation

GVL | Annabelle Robinson

The Asian Student Union (ASU) hosted its annual Taste of Asia fundraiser on Oct. 6 in the Chamberlain Multipurpose Room Niemeyer Multipurpose Room in the Niemeyer Living and Learning center. The room was transformed into an immersive dining experience: paper lanterns hung from the ceiling, streamers wrapped the banisters and tables were decorated with paper cranes. 

Co-President Brianna Lee described the event as an opportunity “to introduce members of Grand Valley to authentic Asian Cuisine.” 

Over a hundred attendees lined up with their fundraising tickets, wrapping down and around the hallway leading into the room. The members of the club prepared traditional Asian dishes such as miso soup, bulgogi, stir fry, curry and more. The fan favorite of the evening was the tteokbokki, which is a Korean chewy rice cake in a spicy gochujang sauce. 

Attendees came to support friends in the club and enjoy good food. Besides the food that the club prepared, lots of students attended the event in anticipation of the Spicy Ramen Challenge the club hosts annually, which Lee noted was her favorite part of the event. 

The object of the contest is to finish a bowl of extra spicy ramen and boiled egg first, and then avoid drinking milk after finishing for at least three minutes. In addition to the title of  “Spice Lord,” the winner also received a stuffed animal prize and ramen to take home. 

“(The event aims) to bring our members, alumni, family and friends together,” Event Coordinator Sarah Parrish said.

Parrish said it was important to the club to have “the opportunity to share our culture and talk to the Grand Valley community.” 

The club said they look forward to the event each year mainly for the fundraiser element. The club uses the event as a means to fundraise for the Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Foundation (GRAPF). According to the GRAPF website, the organization is a nonprofit organization that aims to help promote cultural awareness and provide resources to support the Asian-Pacific American community in Grand Rapids. 

ASU strives to bring awareness to Asian culture on campus. They also hope to be a space for students to come together to feel supported and connected. The annual fundraiser is one way they work to achieve that goal. 

 “It (the Taste Of Asia Fundraiser) is like a big family, everyone can get together and share a meal and have a great time,” Lee said. “As someone who grew up in a dominant white community, I feel like I’ve learned more about Asian culture and the Asian American experience by interacting with other Asian American students. I feel like I learned more about myself and helped me connect more to GV.”  

While “Taste of Asia” has been the club’s biggest fundraiser event in the past years, the club also works hard throughout the year to put on its other annual event, the Asian New Year Festival. 

“There are local Asian performers, Asian cuisine and admission is free,” Parrish said. “There is always a great turnout from ASU members, the GVSU community and even local communities from around Grand Rapids.” 

When they are not throwing events, the club strives to collaborate with other cultural clubs on campus such as the Vietnamese Student Association, Filipinx American Student Association, Nepali Student Association and Delta Phi Lambda, a sorority that seeks “eradicate Asian stereotypes” and set an example in their community. These organizations work together each year to host the Asian Night Market where traditional Asian street food is sold. 

ASU plans to continue its philanthropic and social events throughout the year to raise awareness and community. They hope to continue establish deeper connections in the club and across the GVSU campus.

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