GV dedicates two months to Asian cultural celebration

Lan Huynh, Linda Truong, and Linda Teng, members of Delta Phi Lambda, pose for a picture at the Asian Pacific Heritage Celebration

Rachel Dwyer

Lan Huynh, Linda Truong, and Linda Teng, members of Delta Phi Lambda, pose for a picture at the Asian Pacific Heritage Celebration

Marc Maycroft

Eastern food, dance, literature, martial arts, politics and a host of other aspects of history and culture will give students a taste of Asian traditions throughout the months of February and March.

Grand Valley State University will take part in the celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage now through March 26.

“Everybody has a story to tell,” said Connie Dang, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs on Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus. “From upbringing, background, ethnic group, family tradition, by sharing your identity, it makes it easier for others to understand who you are.”

Festivities kicked off Thursday with a celebration of Chinese New Year. The OMA and the Asian Student Union offered free traditional food and entertainment as they showed their appreciation for their heritage.

“It’s the only big holiday we have,” said Dan Ayotte, a Korean GVSU student. “We don’t have big celebrations for Christmas or Halloween – all we have is New Year’s.”

While the Western culture offers many opportunities to take holidays, the Eastern calendar provides fewer opportunities to take breaks from the daily routine.

“Our culture is so fast-paced,” said George Weaver, a Filipino-American GVSU student. “This is the only time where we slow down to celebrate.”

This will be the eighth annual celebration on the GVSU campus – the first took place in 2004.

Traditional celebration of Asian culture in the U.S. takes place in May, the time designated by a 1978 Congressional resolution to commemorate two historical events: the end to the construction of the Trans-Continental railroad by Chinese immigrants in May of 1869 and the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to the U.S. in May of 1843. However, due to the small number of students that are on campus for the spring and summer semesters, Dang said she decided to celebrate in February to both maximize student exposure to Asian culture and to coordinate with the celebration of the Chinese New Year.

“It’s a great way to connect and share history,” Dang said. “It’s about promoting and understanding. The more I can show you about my history and my culture, the more we can connect.”

This year, Dang said the one event she recommends most is the ?útak?© event on Wednesday in the Cook-DeWitt Center, which will feature art, poetry, music and philosophy in one all-encompassing event..

“It will showcase students, alumnus, faculty and citizens,” Dang said. “…There are so many racial and ethnic groups within Asian culture,” Dang said. “I try to include all of them in the celebration.”

?útak?© is also a part of the GVSU 50th Anniversary celebration and will feature many guests from across the nation.

For a complete list of the events for the Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Celebration, view the accompanying schedule of events or visit the OMA website at www.gvsu.edu/oma.

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