‘Asiantation’ showcases UI’s Asian American cultural groups

By Kiran Sood

The Asian American community and others had a chance to join and research Asian cultural groups Sept. 9 at the annual Asiantation.

Asiantation was held in the Illini Union ballrooms. To start off the evening, all groups in attendance had a chance to introduce themselves and give a preview of upcoming events. The event was like a mini Quad Day, with booths set up for the various organizations to promote their itineraries for the new school year. In addition to booths, the program featured musical and dance performances.

Vanda El, junior in Business, is a member of the freshman outreach committee for the Asian Pacific American Coalition. She said having an event such as this allows all students, especially freshmen, a chance to gain a new perspective of the Asian community on campus. She said the opening of the Cultural Center would be the highlight for many Asian groups on campus.

El said that the coalition has many events planned for the upcoming year, and her organization was excited for the possibilities.

“Our main programs for the year are Visibility, a program where artists can display their talents, which is held in the spring,” El said. “Also, we are a part of a program called “Unseen, Unheard,” which is a forum that features various speakers and allows students to voice their opinions on various issues.”

El said that the Asian Pacific American Coalition, along with other Asian organizations at the University, hopes to allow the “silent minority,” as Asians are often referred to, a chance to be heard.

“We are an umbrella organization,” El said. “APAC is often relied on to be the means of communication between all other Asian groups.”

Laura Chu, junior in FAA, is the internal vice president of the Asian American Association on campus. She said the organization is both a social and cultural club, a place where people can meet not only Asians on campus, but also other individuals who have similar interests and concerns.

“AAA is open to everyone, people of any race or religion,” Chu said. “Our main goal is to get the message out there that the Asian community has a lot to offer.”

Cathy Suh, Korean sophomore in LAS, is a member of the Philippine Student Association. Suh said that this organization allows people from different backgrounds to come together in a positive atmosphere and have fun while learning at the same time.

She decided to join the organization last year to meet new people, and the group seemed like a great way to start, Suh said.

“PSA took me in,” Suh said. “I wanted to meet people and get more acquainted with the Asian culture, and I got to do both.”

With many organizations focusing on a one specific target audience, some students are looking for a more general way to get involved. Ketan Darji, sophomore in Engineering, said his organization, Together Encouraging the Appreciation of Multiculturalism, is the way to get involved. Darji said the organization is the only multicultural group on campus, and is about making social connections and meeting new people of different ethnicities.

Darji, director of the international issues and events committee, said September is an important month for this organization and many other cultural groups on campus, as it is Unity Month.

“TEAM was started to raise awareness about all different cultures, as well as allowing people to appreciate their cultures,” Darji said. “We want to make the uniqueness of each group more known.”

“Each group here is a great way to get involved,” Darji said. “However, if you are looking for a way to encompass all of these groups while experiencing different cultures and meeting new people, then TEAM might be for you.”

Swati Acharya, sophomore in Engineering, came to Asiantation to meet people and check out what was going on with the various groups. She said that she heard Together Encouraging the Appreciation of Multiculturalism was giving dance lessons, and was also interested in learning about that.

“I heard from some of my friends on TEAM that there was going to be a program Friday night,” Acharya said. “I thought it would be fun to go to, just to see what the other Asian organizations on campus were up to.”

Acharya said that the presentations made by each organization were a quick and easy way for the audience to see what was in store for them for the year.