Project Graduation Celebrates Culture at Taste of Asia

By Mary Miller, Executive Editor

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  • The performers dance to a Chinese musical number about Confucius, a Chinese philosopher.

  • Sejal Jain '20 sings a song in 26 different languages.

  • Mehak Satsangi '19 performs a Bollywood dance medley.

  • Radhika Rajalal '19 moves to an upbeat Bollywood number.

  • Elizabeth Wolf '19 dances with KPOP club in their performance.

  • The performer smiles during her Chinese dance.

  • In a synchronized dance performance, the performer uses her props during a classical Chinese dance.

  • Madhuri Neralla '19 dances to an upbeat Bollywood song in her performance.

  • A performer bows down while representing a fashion era of China.

  • Nehali Shah '19 smiles as she wears a Lengha in the fashion show.

  • Sonia Ballada '20 and Chinmaya Andukuri '19 sport Indian party wear.

  • Janice Oh '19 smiles as she wears traditional Korean attire at the fashion show.

  • A student sports her kimono in the fashion show.

  • The dancers tell the story of Shiva, a Hindu deity, in their traditional Bharatanatyam performance.

  • A performer from UT Austin spins in her Persian dance.

  • A performer from Laurel Mountain Elementary School dances to a modern Chinese song.

  • A performer smiles as she ends the Taiwanese dance.

  • The performers dance to a Taiwanese folk song in traditional attire.

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Taste of Asia, the annual fundraiser hosted by Project Graduation, honored the traditions, history, and culture of Asian countries on Friday, March 29, in the cafeteria. From the authentic food, to the music and dance performances, the event created a supportive, energetic environment that was the ultimate celebration of Asia.

“Taste of Asia is all about representing and appreciating Asian cultures,” Ayesha Middya ‘20 said. “I am really proud of my heritage so it is a great opportunity to be here.”

When entering the event, guests were immersed in a unique, cultural experience with decorations that brought the space to life. From large peacocks adorned with gold foil, to brilliantly colored paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, the cafeteria and surrounding hallways were transformed to create a festival-like environment designed to inspire youth and adults alike. Countries such as China, Taiwan, and Korea were represented with flags, illustrations depicting traditional clothing, and booths educating passersby about the rich history of each nation, as well as offering interactive experiences such as trivia games.

“I love the decorations, and just the high energy in the event space,” Kate Jernigan ‘20 said. “There are lanterns and drawings everywhere, as well as flowers and rolled paper decorations. I think Taste of Asia helps people understand each other better, especially since Westwood is such a diverse place.”

The night boasted a total of 22 performances, each captivating the audience and serving as the primary entertainment for the event. Student organizations such as Chinese yo-yo club and K-Pop club each drew large crowds, and outside groups had the opportunity to show off their talents as well.

“I saw a Persian dance that I thought was really well done,” Anushka Solanki ‘20 said. “That is something that I would not have otherwise had the chance to see, so that was really cool.”

Additional attractions included henna art and a kimono photo booth, as well as a fashion show later in the night that showcased differences in style between countries.

“I am volunteering here with National Honor Society, so I am helping out backstage, but I am also going to be part of the fashion show,” Manasi Chande ‘20 said. “I’ll be modeling an Indian sari. Seeing all of the other performances has been really inspiring and has definitely been my favorite part.”

Another highlight of the event was the vast array of cuisine available in the lecture hall and along the back wall of the cafeteria. From crab cakes to samosas, there was no shortage of food for all who wanted to sample a slice of what Asia has to offer. Guests also had the opportunity to browse through the vendor showcase, which displayed jewelry, books, and other trinkets that were available for purchase. Sponsors such as Kendra Scott supplied prizes for the silent auction.

“There is so much to do and see here,” Isha Chhabra ‘20 said. “I have walked by tables selling all different items, and this really shows how diverse Westwood is, and helps with representation.”

All of the proceeds from the event went towards Project Graduation.