Students sample cuisine at heritage month opening ceremony

By Suzanne Khazaal

A room of packed students opened the Asian and Pacific Islander
Student Center’s initial ceremony, “Cultural Cuisine,” Thursday in
accordance with Asia and the Pacific Islands Heritage Month.

APISC Coordinator Jih-Fei Cheng and co-chair of APIHM, Yolanda
Diaz, had anticipated 60 attendees. Around 80 people showed up,
surpassing their anticipation. Fortunately, there was enough food
to feed everyone and enough room to accommodate all guests, even if
it meant sitting on the floor.

From the plastic margarita cups filled with Jolly Ranchers to
the string of lights twirled around the pillars, Cheng thought the
event held a festive mood and facilitated discussions.

“Students had the chance to engage one another across cultural
groups while sharing in something, such as a meal, which may seem
very ordinary, but becomes more extraordinary when highlighted as a
collaborative process,” said Cheng.

The theme, “Embracing Our Roots and Branching Out,” was
celebrated with an array of cultural dishes prepared by the diverse
APISC clubs.

“These were accompanied by presentations of the cultural
contexts from which these foods come,” said Cheng.

Each club explained its cultural dish through PowerPoint
presentations, short videos or through a brief explanation. Cheng
said this simple process fell in line with the theme for this
year’s heritage month.

“I think this process of working together proposes a notion of
community across difference and demonstrates the thrust of this
year’s theme,” said Cheng.

The event held a deep sense of unification among the students of
diverse backgrounds.

“It was really nice to see everyone come together,” said Diaz.
“Everyone was really supportive of one another.”

One student center, The Stop Violence Office, participated in
the APIHM event by bringing teal-colored frosted cupcakes,
representing Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The APISC will also be
co-sponsoring an event held by the SVO, “Sexual Violence in the API
Community,” April 16.

Another event co-sponsored by the APISC, the “Pilipino eXPO”
brought in a smaller crowd of 12 attendees Saturday. Chi Rho
Omicron, a Filipino-American fraternity, hosted the APIHM event.
This event was tied into pursuing the teachings of the Pacific
islands’ culture and history.

“This is our first time doing this event; it’s a guinea pig
event,” said alumnus and event coordinator, Gregory Vera Cruz.

This event was aimed at Filipinos with an open mind to learn
about the culture; the history of the flag; Eskrima, or martial
arts in Philippines; Alibata, or Filipino script; and the history
behind their various cultural dances.

“The events we hold are focused on culture, educating, and
creating awareness,” said Cruz. “We want to fulfill our mission
statement of promoting awareness, understanding and enrichment of
the [Filipino] culture.”

The event was composed of several workshops encouraging students
to be active and engage in activities such as script writing, flag
making and cultural dance.

The dance workshop provided a history as well as a
demonstration. The two demonstrators encouraged attendees to
participate and learn a new Filipino dance move.

“I myself am Filipino, so it’s a good introduction to learn a
little bit more about my culture from the perspective of other
students,” said Chris Africa, a Mount San Antonio College
student.

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