Miami University’s Asian American Association (AAA) held its annual Asian Cultural Festival on Friday, Oct. 1. A night filled with dancing, food and photo booths, the event aimed to educate the community on different Asian countries and their cultures.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time the festival has been held in person since 2019.
AAA’s Cultural Chair, senior bioengineering major Luther Michalski, helped make sure the festival ran as smoothly as possible. As cultural chair, he has a strong commitment to making the festival as diverse as possible.
“The level of diversity we’ve reached with this year's Asian Cultural Festival is something that I am proud of,” Michalski said ahead of the festival “This year, we’ve reached a new level. We have confirmed over 20 participating booths, extended beyond just nations. We want to extend it to more and more culturally unique groups of Asia.”
One of the most special parts of this festival, and Michalski’s favorite part, was being able to have Asian students share their specific cultures with the community in and around Oxford.
The festival also allowed students from different parts of Asia perform dance routines representative of their countries on stage at Uptown Park.
Senior psychology and neuroscience double major Chandlier Jones attended the festival and enjoyed the performances. Although Jones enjoyed the dancing, her favorite part was more sentimental.
“Going to [the] Egypt [booth] and seeing this Mancala game board that I played a lot when I was younger – I did not know it originated in Egypt,” Jones said. “I thought it was funny how different parts of my childhood come from different parts of the world.”
The food at the festival was specific to each country. Attendees were encouraged to visit as many booths as possible by completing a bingo card. The card could be crossed off by learning a new fact from each country represented there.
Adam Vuth, a senior mechanical engineering major and social chair of AAA, was running the Cambodia booth, which was at the festival for the first time ever.
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“[My favorite part is] the fact that I get to represent my culture, one that I am not super familiar with, to everyone here,” Vuth said. “Most importantly, I am trying to connect with other Cambodians on campus, being able to represent our culture is important. I like being able to show off the parts of the country that represent it best.”
Some participants said they’d like to see the cultures at the festival represented more often.
“I would love to see the cultural festivals that were shown at the different booths. I would love to see it brought to Miami,” Jones said. “It would be cool to see everyone’s culture put on and demonstrate and show us that we can be a part of them.”
The Asian Cultural Festival is AAA’s largest event, and the work that goes into it from all angles is appreciated by the community and the club. From the members on the executive board to the people running booths to the festival-goers themselves, everyone there had a special appreciation for the festival.
“It takes a certain level of pride and bravery to come up here in front of people and be able to do this,” Michalski said. “For that, I am so grateful to all of them.”