Asian Arts Festival Celebrates Cultural Diversity

The 24th annual Asian Arts Festival took Andover by storm on Saturday, May 4, with a food bazaar and talent and fashion show organized by Asian Society along with other cultural campus organizations.

Aromas of crispy, deep-fried Filipino empanadas and juicy Korean beef galbi filled the George Washington Hall mailroom as Asian Society opened the doors for the annual Asian Arts Festival Food Bazaar.

With homemade food cooked by the many Asian heritage clubs on campus, the bazaar featured several delicious dishes and drinks. This year, all clubs selling food were also required to include a cultural activity. Indopak members painted intricate henna designs on students’ hands. Other students sold handmade origami and South East Asian jewelry. All proceeds went to support the clubs or to support a chosen charity.

In addition to the students and faculty members at Andover, a group of special guests from the Chinese Student Organization (CSO) at Exeter joined Andover students at the bazaar.

“At Exeter, we only have a food event to celebrate Asian Culture. We realize that food is not enough when it comes to representing a culture, so we came to see how Andover does it. We are very impressed by the variety of activities, including the hand-painting stall at the Food Bazaar, and the talent show following,” said Darius Shi PEA ’16, a member of Exeter’s CSO.

Students and faculty members enjoyed dishes ranging from sushi to Chinese scallion pancakes to spicy Thai curry.

“The chicken at the [Chinese Taiwanese Student Association (CTSA)] stand is my favorite. I’m glad that I got it. Normally, I don’t have a lot of opportunities to eat authentic Asian food at Andover. This is so much better than the restaurants,” said Stephanie Huang ’14.

With models dressed in Chinese “qipaos” to a student performing a traditional South Indian dance, this year’s Asian Arts Festival Talent and Fashion Show celebrated the diversity and variety of Asian cultures.

MCs Brendan O’Connell ’13 and Ben Yi ’14 kicked off the show with a series of lighthearted jokes before diving into the program.

Julia Xia ’15, Ava LaRocca ’15 and Xin Wen ’15 opened the show with a contemporary dance to the Korean pop songs “Miss Right” by Teen Top and “Maxstep Dance” by Younique. The trio employed dance moves that are popular in contemporary Asian music videos to complement the music.

“It was good to see a lot of students who weren’t Asian participate. [They all] had a love and appreciation for the culture,” said Yi.

Next, Mihika Sridhar ’16 took the stage with a spotlight-stealing performance of a classical South Indian Dance that traditionally served as a tribute to the Hindu god, Krishna. Sridhar’s dance was characterized by graceful arm and leg movements and playful eye gestures. Sridhar’s elaborate traditional clothing and accessories made the dance even more memorable.

The talent show was dominated by many mellow love songs sung in different Asian languages. In a vocal trio, Tasmiah Ahmad ’14, Laz Nyamakazi ’13 and Oscar Chim ’13 sang “Just Can’t Stop Loving You” in Chinese. The duet of Sophiya Chiang ’14 and Clint Yoo ’14 followed. A quartet of four South East Asian (SEA) Club members—Sierra Jamir ’14, Stephanie Hendarta ’14, Andra Gusman ’14 and Chris Li ’14—wrapped up the singing for the night.

Thomi Pamplin ’14 and Ji Tae Park ’14 also performed a freestyle street dance called “Beggars.” Andover Korean Society presented a parody video of the famous South Korean movie, “Friends.”

The final act of the night was the annual IndoPak dance that featured Jordan Boudreau ’14, Armaan Singh ’14, Jason Nawrocki ’13, Aneesh Ashutosh ’15, Sahil Bhaiwala ’13 and O’Connell.

As soon as the talent show came to a close, the audience was treated with a fashion show featuring colorful ethnic clothings. The garments ranged from simple Indian tunics to colorful Filipino dresses.

“It’s about trying to spread awareness about the different cultures and heritages from which many of our students come, whether they’re Asian American or Asian International. I think it’s fascinating to see that among all these different backgrounds, there are things that all unite us,” said Aya Murata, Advisor to Asian and Asian-American Students and Asian Society.