Organizations celebrate first Asian Heritage Month

For nearly a quarter of Carnegie Mellon students, November is the month to celebrate. This November marks CMU?s first annual Asian Heritage Month (AHM), a four-week series of events sponsored by the University?s Asian culture organizations to increase awareness, interest, and appreciation of the many different cultural groups at CMU. Groups organizing the month?s activities include Asian fraternities and sororities and the Asian, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong Student Associations, among others.

According to Jea Suh, Asian Heritage Month Coordinator, ?This month?s festivities aim to incorporate all the aspects of culture, including food making, performance, discussion, film, and art.?

In prior years, Lunar Gala and Asian Heritage Week celebrations were held in the spring semester and included merely a few days of Asian cultural celebrations. As different CMU Asian organizations expressed interest in participating in the celebration, the Multicultural Presidents Council, a group of cultural organization presidents, decided to move the event from the spring to the fall and lengthen it to a month of events.

At the beginning of this month, all the participating organizations gathered on the Cut to kick off Asian Heritage Month. The activities started out with the three-day International Festival, which explored both cultural and environmental issues. The festival was followed by the AHM parade, an afternoon march down Forbes Avenue, to the University of Pittsburgh campus and back. Suh says the parade was met with a lot of support from both students and passing community members.

Though cooperation among CMU cultural groups has been key to AMH?s success, the month also includes a lot of collaboration with University of Pittsburgh Asian organizations, including several joint events and an Asian Alliance Meeting between the two campuses.

CMU students and faculty have also been enthusiastic and cooperative.

?Asian Heritage Month is not only a month for Asians. It?s meant to engage people in fun, interesting, and educational events,? Suh said.

AHM events have enjoyed high participation from both Asian and non-Asian students. Suh said that attendance is high because ?a lot of different organizations are doing a really good job and lot of hard work.?

One of the hallmarks of this year?s AHM was last Friday?s Culture Night in Rangos Ballroom. The fourth annual event, using the theme ?Born Identity,? was sponsored by the Taiwanese Student Association.
According to the Carnegie Mellon Multicultural Initiatives website, ?Culture Night is a chance for all cultures to share their traditions and an opportunity for all of us to experience. Through Culture Night, the Taiwanese Student Association hopes to bring unity in our diverse community.?

Culture Night coordinator Mike Kuo said the night?s performances were a display of both traditional and modern Asian and Asian-American performance styles. The event featured cultural performances by 13 organizations and included an eclectic mix of short film, original poetry, freestyle, chamber music, and dance.

Senior Amy Malangyoan performed a traditional Tinikling dance with the Barkada Club, a Filipino interest group seeking recognition on campus.

?We are not just a group of Filipinos. We are about Filipino interests. We want others to be interested, too,? Malangyoan said.

The club is an example of the cooperation between cultures that brought Culture Night and Asian Heritage Month together.