UP to celebrate Asian-American History Month with several cultural nights

By Natalie Rubio-Licht | April 8, 2018 3:41pm

The Vietnamese Student Association will host their annual cultural night during Asian-American History Month on April 8, 2018. Photo taken from cultural night in 2017. Photo courtesy of Mai Jones.

With the end of the semester on the horizon, many students are struggling under the weight of essays, projects and exams. But for many students at the University of Portland, April is more than just end-of-semester crunch time — it’s Asian-American History Month. Some of UP’s cultural clubs are providing an escape from the stress with numerous cultural nights throughout the next few weeks.

Hello, Vietnam: Memories of You 

First, the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) is hosting a Vietnamese Cultural Night on April 8, on the Quiet Side of the Bauccio Commons. Doors open at 6 p.m., and entertainment starts at 6:30 p.m. The night will revolve around themes like familial sacrifice and will begin with a video interview of two people that immigrated to America during and after the Vietnam War. Following that, there will be a skit about two parallel love stories — one in the modern era and one during the Vietnam war. The skit will also feature various modern and traditional dances and music.

“In our generation, a lot of our parents crossed the ocean, and sometimes we don't really think about that,” VSA president Mai Jones said. “We take our lives for granted. The skit is really about these college students unraveling their parents past and processing it. It’s a lot about appreciating the past and acknowledging it’s there.”

Admission is free, and traditional food will be provided. VSA long sleeve t-shirts will be sold at the event, the profits from which will go to Pacific Links Foundation, a charity that helps fight human trafficking in Vietnam. 

Pilots Paint: Asian-American History Month

Next up is Pilots Paint, which is on Thursday, April 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. in St. Mary’s lounge. It is organized by student diversity coordinators Marisa Johnson and Claire Matanguihan. This is a guided painting session featuring an Asian-American artist. Before the painting begins, there will be a short presentation on the background of the artist and their culture. Music based around the theme will be played while the participants are painting. 

“Pilots Paint is always really fun, and people enjoy it,” Johnson said. “We really would love a great turnout for the last one of the academic year.” 

Guam Night: Paradise in Portland 

Organized by Guam Club, Guam Night is Friday, April 20 on the Quiet Side of the Bauccio Commons. Doors open at 5:30 p.m,. and the show starts at 6 p.m. The show features a variety of performances that come from Chamorro culture and other Pacific islands, reenacting unique customs and values of the culture such as O'saina, Sirena and the Inifresi. There will also be a photo booth, cultural food and raffle tickets that will be given out upon entry. Admission to the event is free.

“This evening gives us an opportunity to uplift the wide range of narratives from diverse Pacific Islander communities,” Guam Club president Brandon Cruz said. “Pacific Islanders encompass a large group of identities that are often bundled together without recognizing the unique customs and traditions of each culture.”

Filipino Cultural Night: Dalawang Mundo 

Finally, the Filipino-American Student Association (FASA) is organizing Filipino Cultural Night, titled “Dalawang Mundo” on Sunday, April 21, with doors opening at 6 p.m. and performances starting at 7 p.m. on the Quiet Side of the Bauccio Commons. “Dalawang Mundo” translates to “Two Worlds,” which relates to the theme of dual cultural identity. The performance features a skit following a boy as he tries to discover his dual identity as a Filipino-American, with modern and cultural dances intertwined throughout the show. There will also be games, a raffle and traditional Filipino food. Admission is free, and attendees can purchase extra raffle tickets. 

“Check it out whether or not you're familiar with the Filipino culture or not,” FASA president Chloe Tanega said. “It's just a good time to just see what other students on campus are doing. Learn what it's about. Even if you’re not Filipino, I think everybody can relate to being (a part of a) dual identity, whether or not you actually are two races or just like the experience of being fully one race but living in this culture.”