Asian Student Association and APPS partner for Asian festival

Marlen Cardenas, Reporter

When junior accounting major Sachin Iyengar came to App State, he quickly noticed the lack of Asian representation on campus.

“There is just absolutely no one that you see,” Iyengar said. “It’s really easy for someone to become comfortable in their own environment, in their own bubble. You don’t really see any other culture in Boone, and you kind of get used to that, and it doesn’t allow you to have a broad diversity of thought.”

The Asian Student Association and the Appalachian Popular Programming Society hosts the annual Asian Festival to help the school promote diversity, ASA president senior computer information systems and supply chain manager major Merton Chen said.

“Our main goal is to showcase the Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ community on campus and the different stories we have to tell. We showcase different cultural foods, traditions and clothing,” Chen said.

This festival is ASA’s biggest event of the year, with around 300 people in attendance. It includes food, student performances and a guest speaker. The 2019 guest speaker is Kulap Vilaysack.

“We usually have a guest speaker come and speak about their identity and experiences. Kulap is a writer, comedian and actress,” ASA vice president and senior psychology major Jules Crisostomo said.

Chen said ASA will serve Lao, Indian and Japanese food, and performances will include Bollywood dance, Chinese Yoyo and a fashion show that showcases traditional clothing.

Iyengar has performed in the fashion show for the past three years, wearing a kurta pajama, a traditional Indian outfit, every year.

“This was an opportunity to showcase some of my clothing. Even if it was in a more of a minor way, I was still able to do it,” Iyengar said. “I think it was actually one of the first opportunities that I had to actually show my culture on campus.”

This is the first year the Asian Festival will have a theme.

“It’s going to be focused on origins,” Chen said. “It’s going to talk about AAPI individuals and what their origin story is and how they’ve come to be themselves. Everyone has their own unique story, and we kind of want to showcase that.”

Crisostomo said the festival will expose attendees to different stories, backgrounds and people, widening their understanding of what being Asian really means.

“Our Asian Fest does a really good job of highlighting all the different kind of Asians that exist on our campus,” Crisostomo said. “People think the Asian race is a monolith, but that is really not the case.”

Chen said the festival is one of the biggest opportunities for people on campus to inform themselves and “have a bigger worldview.”

“It’s a lot of fun to watch people introduce themselves and introduce their culture,” Iyengar said. “You will get a lot of chances to see beautiful traditional clothing and have a chance to meet a lot of amazing people.”

The Asian Festival is on April 10 in the Parkway Ballroom in the Plemmons Student Union. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the festival runs from 6-9 p.m. Admission is free.

“Please come,” Chen said. “Even if you’re not Asian, it’s for everyone. As long as you’re interested and have an open mind, we welcome everyone.”