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Showcase connects OSU, Asian Pacific American culture

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is coming to an end, but it has not slowed down.

The Performance Hall in the Union erupted in a variety of dance, song, skits and spoken word Monday night during the third annual ExplorAsia event.

“It is an opportunity to showcase Asian talent,” said Sudeep Nigam, a fourth-year in electrical and computer engineering, president of the South Asian Student Organization and a student coordinator of ExplorAsia. “There are so many festivals, but it is different because we make it into a competition.”

It was free to attend and free to participate in the competition. Free food and drinks were provided.

Viral Patel, a fourth-year in economics and microbiology, said ExplorAsia has changed drastically in the past few years.

“It used to be a table fair in the RPAC, with each booth representing a different country,” he said. “I helped to restructure the event and now it is more of a showcase where groups work together.”

Patel participated in a skit titled “Ironically Indian,” a sequel to a performance that he was part of at last year’s event.

Attendees experienced everything from Rihanna songs to a video about Sri Lankan war crime.

About eight teams competed and were intermingled throughout the night with other exhibitions that were not in competition. Nigam said the biggest criterion for judging the competition was not how well the participants did, but how much cultural content was evident in the performance.

The competition was open to all students as well as student groups on campus. The Vietnamese Student Association won the $250 grand prize with a video interview about a woman’s experience coming to America. Members said the money they received will go toward their organization’s philanthropy.

The Filipino Student Association, which performed a dance, was the runner-up, winning $150.

The remainder of participants received small gifts as tokens of their participation.

Student groups that also participated and were represented were the Muslim Student Association, Pi Delta Psi, OSU Genesis, BAAM, a vocal performing group, the Indian American Association and the hosts, the Asian American Association and the South Asian Student Association.

Despite thunderstorms, about 200 people attended the event. About 275 people were in attendance last year, Nigam said.

Kashif Kahn, intercultural specialist in the Multicultural Center, said the event is important because it spreads awareness, but also represents the issues, themes and celebrations of the Asian culture.

Kahn stressed that a variety of cultures were represented not only in the show, but also in many of the activities during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

The theme this year was “Connecting GenerAsians.”

The celebration included lectures, panel discussions, demonstrations and movie showings that the Multicultural Center, the Office of Student Life and the department of Asian American studies sponsored.

“I think historically, a lot of mainstream America thinks Asian Americans are just East Asians (Chinese and Japanese), but it involves the entire continent of Asia (Vietnamese, Pilipino, Indian, Pakistani, etc.),” Kahn said. “(This month) is an opportunity for groups of students to depict what the Asian American experience is like in the states,” he said.

Asian Pacific American Heritage month continues with the Asian Festival Saturday and Sunday and ends with a cookout and barbeque on June 4.


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