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A&M-San Antonio celebrates third annual Asian American, Pacific Islander and Desi American night

A&M-San Antonio celebrates third annual Asian American, Pacific Islander and Desi American night - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

The San Antonio Lion Dance Association performs during Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Cultural Night April 16 in the auditorium at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Photo by Joseph Ramon

Texas A&M University-San Antonio celebrated Asian American, Pacific Islander and Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month with the third annual APIDA Cultural Night, hosted by the Asian Student Association on April 16 in the auditorium

The night featured performances and food vendors showcasing APIDA culture, free for A&M-San Antonio students and the public. There was a $8-$15 food voucher fee for the public.

“We like to show off our heritage and culture,” said Jaspal Kahlon, co-president of the Asian Student Association. “This is our month well technically it’s in May but due to finals we are doing it in April this year.”

Before the performances began, students and guests sampled food and drinks from different Asian cultures, such as sushi, chai, and Japchae, which is a Korean sweet potato noodle dish mixed with vegetables and a sauce made up of sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Inside the lobby of the auditorium were vendors from Amaretti Coffee, Henna Art by Shree and Sushi Express.

As guests waited for the performances to start, there was multicultural music like Korean pop, also known as K-pop, playing throughout the auditorium. 

A buffet-style display of Islander food, made by student body president Serenity Gill, was available as students and guests waited for the performances. 

While some students made a line for the food, others made a line to get henna tattoos.

Henna artist Tejashree Sourabh said she feels amazing seeing the youth enjoying different cultures while also enjoying and appreciating Indian culture.

“There are so many different things which we can take from others, which are good things,” Sourabh said. “It’s beautiful to see different cultures and how people celebrate and believe in things.”

As students and guests waited in the lobby, they engaged in conversations about the different foods and upcoming performances. 

Nirav Amarnath, the founder of Amaretti Coffee, said he hopes more people can try their drinks and experience Indian tea culture. Amaretti Coffee is an Indian-fusion coffee shop that specializes in Indian chai and other espresso-based drinks. 

During the event, there were multicultural performances from dance groups such as: Pandora and KPM, the San Antonio Lion Dance Association. A&M-San Antonio students Twillie Twins, Minahil Farhan and the Jaguarettes also performed

Farhan, vice president of the Asian Student Association and general business senior, performed in her traditional Pakistani dress, re-creating dances from famous Bollywood movies and traditional Pakistani dances. 

“I think events like this are important,” Farhan said. “There are many cultures on campus and representation is important.” 

Many of the performers showcased their traditional dances, incorporating the audience into the act. 

The San Antonio Lion Dance Association performed its colorful dance, capturing the audience’s attention. This dance is a traditional ceremony aimed at chasing away evil spirits while bringing good luck and fortune.

Students also participated in games and won prizes during the performance intermissions. The games included Kahoot, musical chairs and the newspaper game. 

The prizes guests took home were ramen bowls, humidifiers and a gaming keyboard.

The APIDA Kahoot had questions varying from “What is Hawaii’s state flower?” to Who is the author of the famous Japanese novel ‘Norwegian Wood’?” Over 60 players participated.

Biology senior Aisha Abdirahman said she learned the most about APIDA when playing the Kahoot game, which tested the audience’s knowledge of Asian American facts.

“I didn’t know who our first Asian politician in Congress was until the game,” Abdirahman said of Patsy Mink, former United States Representative of Hawaii.

Abdirahman said people learn from organically encountering people having fun, she also said it’s wonderful to understand how these cultures express dance and fun. 

After the event, all the performers participated in a cultural “dance-off,” showcasing their dance skills using music from popular K-pop and Bollywood songs. 

As the night ended, volunteers and staff encouraged guests to take home food and invited everyone to come back next year.

About the Authors

Kevin Ronquillo
Kevin Ronquillo is a sophomore majoring in communications and minoring in creative arts and performance studies at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. In his downtime he enjoys listening to music, playing video games and fashion. After graduation Kevin hopes to travel all over the world with his partner.
Gabriella Harris
Gabriella Harris is a sophomore majoring in communications with a concentration in mass media at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. During her time at Health Careers High School, she pursued studies in dental health but decided to focus on her true passion in creative arts. Outside of academics, she is an avid guitar player, showing her self-expression through music and writing. After graduating, she hopes to explore the world as a writer.

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