Taste of Asia Brings Together a Diversity of Cultures

Nicole Souydalay, Heritage Events Editor

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  • Performers don traditional Indian clothing while dancing.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • Indian dancers hold their hands up to their faces.

  • Performers spin the prize wheel.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • Children try on traditional Indian clothing.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • Mona Dong ’18 and Kathleen Zhang ’18 introduce the next performing group.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • Performers look at the order of the program.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • Performers represent Japan with bright outfits and flowers.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • A performer sways with her bowl of flowers on the stage.

  • Volunteers help to sell food at the event.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • Students perform a routine to a K-pop song.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • Melissa Wijono ’18 represents China with golden rings and bright clothing.

    Photo By F. Song

  • Emily Lai ’18 performs a Mongolian dance.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • Pooja Enagala ’19 dances to an upbeat Bollywood song.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • MC Brandon Allid ’18, Lyna Pham ’18, and Osric Nagle ’18 announce the raffle ticket winner.

    Photo By Faith Song

  • The emcees of the event introduce the itinerary.

  • Ellen Okamura ’18 waves at the crowd while showing off the traditional Japanese kimono.

    Photo By F. Song

  • Model represents China with a red cheongsam.

    Photo By F. Song

  • Pooja Enagala ’19 and Karthik Shetty ’19 pose in traditional Indian for the camera.

    Photo By F. Song

  • Malvika Patil ’19 smiles in her blue sari.

    Photo By F. Song

  • Ryan Bowen ’18 represents India with a pink and blue sari.

    Photo By F. Song

  • A dancer smiles at the audience.

  • The K-pop group poses in their dance.

  • Toran Degen ’18 serves food to a parent.

  • A mother points to dancers on the stage.

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Taste of Asia showed off an assortment of cultures on Friday, April 13 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. in the Westwood cafetorium. One of the purposes of the Taste of Asia was to raise funds for Project Graduation, the annual post-graduation party for seniors. However, another reason for the event was to bring together different Asian cultures, which manifested in a variety of ways, from food and dance, to fashion.

Taking the stage were different visual performances that displayed unique features of different Asian backgrounds. One event that took place was the fashion show, with members of different cultures coming onto stage sporting ethnic dress.

“Three of us who helped out with the Japanese booth ended up wearing kimonos and doing the fashion show as well,” Ellen Okamura ‘18 said. “We really wanted to show off traditional Japanese fashion because it’s not something you see normally in America.”

Others in the audience decided to take part in traditional dress as well to bring to the event a display of their heritage.

“[My] Punjabi dress is from India and it’s just a long dress-like top with leggings at the bottom,” Manasi Chande ‘20 said. “I was just wearing it to express my culture; it just lets the whole world know who you are simply through what you’re wearing.”

Seniors Brandon Allid, Kathleen Zhang, Lyna Pham, Mona Dong, and Osric Nagle commanded the stage as the MCs, announcing the next performers, sponsors, winners of the silent auctions, and other important information.

“There were a lot going on behind that wasn’t present here on stage,” Nagle said. “We do a lot of running around finding people and there was a lot that we had to do on the fly that we had to deal. Honestly, it was kinda stressful, but we tried not to show it. This is something I’ve done before in the past and I kinda liked it. Personally one of the reasons I try to do it is because I try to improve where I’m weak at. One of the things I’m not super great at is public speaking, so I try to practice as much as possible.”

Other students helped volunteer at the event by passing out food, cleaning up, and performing other essential tasks to make sure everything was in order.

“I had to volunteer at the drink station, but I also like Taste of Asia because you get to see a lot of Asian cultures come together,” Audheya Mannepalli ‘18 said.

In addition, a tech crew worked behind the stage and around the cafetorium to help ensure that the performances would run smoothly.

“I was working backstage to help with organizing cues and when to start music and managing mics,” Veda Allen ‘19 said. “I would have to go up and ask [the next group ready] when they wanted their music, but it was difficult because I had a headset on. The people working lighting and sound would be talking to me while other people were talking to me backstage. I actually got to meet some new people and see glimpses into a lot of new cultures that I’m not familiar with, so it was a really neat learning experience.”

All in all, Taste of Asia was a time for students and other attendants to celebrate the cultures of themselves and others in a diverse social event.

“I really love how immersed I feel with all the cultures,” Okamura said. “It’s really just a great place to learn about every single culture because we all see Westwood and we see how diverse it is, but we never really get to learn about it really.so It’s nice to come here socialize with everybody and learn new things.”