Asian Women Empowerment Energizes Elson Courtyard With Food Market

The ongiri station was one of the most popular stops at the market.

On Friday night, Asian Women Empowerment (AWE) hosted a market in the Elson Courtyard featuring a variety of Asian foods. The market invited the entire student body to come and enjoy foods from many different places in Asia. 

The club’s goal in hosting the event was to build community on campus by enjoying good food together while also building cultural awareness around Asian culture. Kaya Magani, a board member of the club, noted how the event was non-affinity in order to build a community and bring light to the larger purpose of the club: building cultural awareness around Asian women. 

“AWE is built on the foundation of bringing people together and creating a positive and uplifting environment. By making this night market non-affinity, we invited everyone from the school to come join us and to enjoy some lovely food while also building a strong community. It also creates some cultural awareness, because we focus primarily on Asian food, but not just East Asian food, like Asian Society. But, we did like all sorts of Asian food,” said Magani 

Mira Patodia ’26, Co-Head of AWE, noted, similarly, that the event’s purpose was to bring together a community and spread cultural awareness. Patodia added that it also served as a study break at the end of a long week. The event featured music and a relaxed vibe, offering a way for students to decompress after a long week. 

“We wanted to host the market just to kind of open up to the whole campus, like a lot of the Asian food. It also provides somewhat of a study break. I know it’s been a busy few weeks, so we wanted to get people both in the club [and] also people in the rest of the community to be able to enjoy,” said Patoida. 

 A popular food option at the market was onigiri, a rice ball wrapped in seaweed. Attendees could add spices or spam to the rice. Throughout the market, this stop maintained the longest line. The station allowed attendees to make their own rice ball and customize it to their liking. Lola Aguirre ’26, an attendee at the event, noted how the station was unique, and she enjoyed the flavors as well as the experience of making the onigiri.

Aguirre said, “My favorite food at the AWE night market was the onigiri. It was a simple option but the flavors of the rice were really good, and I enjoyed the spices that were offered that we could add to the rice and seaweed. I also thought it was fun to make because we used special containers to make the rice ball and then wrapped it in seaweed so it was fun to be able to make your own.” 

The food offered at the event, as well as the community, was a big reason students attended. Attendees were drawn in by the change from typical Paresky Commons food and enjoyed new foods. Lily Stephenson ’26 attended the event because of the food that was offered and her friends who helped to plan it. 

“I attended the market to support my friends who are on the board of AWE. I knew that they had been looking forward to and preparing for the event and I was excited to see what the club had planned. I really enjoyed the event, I thought the food was really good, and I tried some new foods which were really cool. AWE did a great job of spreading Asian culture through the food that was offered at the event but also just putting on a fun event that was perfect for a Friday night after a stressful week,” said Stephenson 

The AWE board had a very thorough preparation process for the event. The board started preparing weeks in advance by placing orders for food items and making a more general plan for the event. The day of the event was primarily spent setting up and preparing the food for attendees. Anaya Qamar ’26, a board member of AWE, noted how the club prepared for the event. 

“A lot of the preparation was in the couple weeks beforehand. There was a lot of talking about what food we were gonna incorporate and ordering the materials mostly but a lot of the prep also just happened right before the event. There’s a lot of setting up and most of our board members were involved in setting up,” said Qamar.