A Blast of Asian Culture

The smell of Pad Thai, the blare of catchy Asian pop songs and a throng of people in the lobby of George Washington Hall drew Phillips Academy students to the Asian Arts Food Bazaar the weekend of May 3. Tables were filled with sushi, mango ice cream, samosas and dumplings. The only thing that matched the diversity of the dishes was the diversity of the clubs. The Asian Arts Food Bazaar represented all of Andover’s Asian umbrella clubs, including Andover Japanese Connection, Andover Korean Society, the Chinese-Taiwanese Student Association and Indo-Pak. The members of these clubs prepared dishes of their choice from within their club’s culture and sold the home-cooked food at the bazaar. “I love Asian food, but there’s lots of types I’d never tried,” said Kim Kohn ’10, explaining what attracted her to the annual event. Students hoping to escape the monotony of campus dining were able to eat foods that were new to them in a setting that fostered discussion. The Asian Arts Food Bazaar offered much more than just food; it offered a cultural experience. Students bought club T-shirts, watched clips of Asian martial arts demonstrations, had their names written in Arabic and Hindi and learned about kendama, a Japanese toy. Through these activities, the clubs were able to gain wider club recognition and generally broaden the horizons of the students in attendance. Nana Matsushita ’09 said, “It’s a fun way to promote your culture—it’s a really fun environment.” The Food Bazaar was followed by the 19th annual Asian Arts Talent and Fashion Show, hosted by emcees Kevin Zhai ’09 and Lisa Lian ’09. The two played off each other beautifully throughout the show as Zhai encouraged Lian to find “the dragon within” and to be proud of her Asian heritage. The show opened with Jennifer Chew ’10, Stephanie Xu ’09 and Jennifer Zhou ’11 performing a traditional Chinese dance in elaborate yellow costumes, wielding green umbrellas. Iris Li ’08 followed the dance with “Very Good,” a popular Chinese song, accompanied by Max Meyer ’08 on piano. Before continuing on to the next act, Lian and Zhai announced that among the programs that had been distributed at the door, three had been signed by Advisor to Asian American Students Aya Murata. The recipients of these programs were winners in a raffle for $50 gift certificates. After discovering that not all of the signed programs had been distributed, Lian gave away the final gift card by allowing the audience to guess her birthday. Jack You ’10 gave the correct response, and as he made his way onstage to collect his prize, Lian asked, “How’d you know?” His answer was met with cheers from the enthusiastic audience: “Facebook.” The raffle was followed by “Mouse Wedding,” a skit by Ms. Shimazu’s Japanese class, and an Asian Fusion dance performed by Veronica Faller ’09, Jean Fang ’09 and Sudhandra Sundaram ’09. Jeff Lu ’08 presented PA Underworld 2, a comedic thriller about an on-campus vendetta between Korean and Chinese students, focusing on the Chinese mission to shut down Andover Korean Society by sabotaging prom dates and physics grades by whatever means possible. Zan An ’08, Kyul Rhee ’10, Mollie Lee ’10, Minyoung Known ’10 and Steve Kim ’11 collaborated in a dance to “Tell Me,” a popular Korean song by The Wondergirls, which immediately preceded the Asian Festival’s fashion show. The show displayed floor-length Chinese gowns in red and gold, Japanese kimonos and parasols, saris from India, traditional Vietnamese dresses, outfits from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Korean dresses and fashions from Thailand and Tibet. After all of the models had walked the stage, pictures from the Asian Arts photo shoot competition were displayed as part of the festival’s search for “Asian Arts’ Next Top Model.” A stunning photo of Maura Tousignant ’08 in a blue sari won the competition. The glamour and flowing fabrics of the fashion show were contrasted with dangerous instruments of war as Max Abitbol ’09, Alec Abitbol ’11, Toshihiro Ogimura and Sadanobu Inoue took the stage to demonstrate the Japanese martial art of fencing—kendo. After a series of instructional fights showing strikes to the head, torso, hands and throat, the two guest instructors participated in an elaborate fight that garnered gasps from an enthralled audience. Afterwards, Alicia Keyes ’09 and Stephanie Yu ’09 performed “Fengyang Flower Drum,” a Chinese folk song, on the Chinese dulcimer and table harp. This peaceful performance was followed by the chaotic raving of Curtis Hon ’10, Michael Yoon ’10 and Peter Yang ’10, the three members of Illuminati who wielded their glow sticks with awe-inspiring ease. Andover Japanese Connection showed Death Note, a parody of a popular Japanese film, and Indo-pak performed an Indian bhangra dance featuring Rajit Mahorta ’08, Arun Saigal ’09, Shefiali Lohia ’10, Ramya Prathuri ’10, Rohan Malhorta ’11 and Kiran Gill ’11. The show’s last performance of the Chinese pop song “Fairy Tale” was a sweet serenade from Peter Yang ’10 to Murata. After presenting Murata with a rose, the fashion and talent show’s performers joined Yang on stage in thanking the teachers involved, the AV staff, Bruce Bacon, Ms. Shimazu, Mary Jane Lewis, Uncommons and CAMD for their support. In turn, the members of the audience thanked the performers for the culturally stimulating experience. “I think a lot of different Asian cultures were represented,” said Annie Li ’10. “It was immensely entertaining.”