By ALAINA ZITZMANN
Say goodbye to October by immersing yourself in Asian literature, art and language as it is taking over the University of Mary Washington this weekend, beginning Sunday Oct. 25. As part of the annual Asian Cultural Celebration, the University is to host events ranging from dance classes, art classes and historical lectures in order to promote an educational way of celebrating Asian-American culture.
Faculty, as well as students from the UMW Asian Student Association, have spent the better part of the semester planning these events. Not only does it celebrate the Asian American culture while focusing on educating the student body and the Fredericksburg community about Asian culture, but it raises awareness about the culture and its history.
Over the course of the week, students will have opportunities to participate and engage in free events and lectures to learn more about Asian culture.
“[The ASA] shifted [our] focus to Chinese events in an attempt to gather more interest from UMW students in hopes of inspiring growth in the Chinese language department,” said Julianna Saracho, treasurer of the UMW Asian Student Association. Kicking off the week is The Hope Chinese School Dance Group, which is preforming from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday in Dodd Auditorium. The night with include up to eight dances, all of which the troupe perfected through three months of preparation.
Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, The Hope Chinese School Dance Group was created in 2002 by Xiaogin Zheng, a popular dance choreographer and instructor. The group began with approximately 16 members but has grown to include more than 100 active members. The group’s main goal is to bring awareness to Chinese culture throughout the metro area of D.C.
“They are the best dance group in the DC area,” said UMW Chinese professor Hongbo Tang. Tang has been working personally with the director for several months in preparation for the grand opening to the week of celebration.
“They will have different types of dances that represent many different cultures within China,” Tang said, while Chinese singers will serenade the audience throughout the show’s intermissions.
Throughout the week Tang hopes students will become better acquainted with the Chinese culture. He especially wants to encourage students to attend the dance together for the festivities themselves and the education they provide.
Following the Sunday night dance, Monday Oct. 26 brings Dr. Steve Rabson, instructor in Japanese culture with the UMW Leidecker Center for Asian Students, to his presentation on Asian-American literature in Lee Hall, starting promptly at 6 p.m. Rabson will focus on the culture, racism and the struggle for a better life of Asian- Americans.
Similarly, on Tuesday Oct. 27, adjunct Chinese Professor, Li Li, will host a Chinese Folk Art seminar in Melchers Hall at 5 p.m. which is focused on practicing traditional Chinese paper cutting techniques. This is a way for students to interactively learn about Chinese culture, plus if your dorm room walls are still a little empty, it’s a great way to create fun and free decorations.
To those history-buffs on campus- be sure not to miss Dr. Krystyn Moon, associate professor of history and American studies, in her lecture on Angel Island on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 5 p.m. in Lee Hall.
Angel Island is an island in the San Francisco Bay that served as a base for immigration inspection and detention. For many Asian-Americans, this was their first introduction to the United States, and quite unlike the East Coast’s Ellis Island. Additionally on the 28th, a Chinese comedy movie, Shaolin Soccer, will be played at 6 p.m. in the Digital Auditorium.
The weeklong celebration culminates with the Taste of Asia dinner event on Friday, held in the Chandler Ballroom of the University Center at 7 p.m. The evening of Oct. 30, is the highlight of the week, as it will provide attendees with a glimpse at Asian cultures through the inclusion of a Chinese fashion show, belly dancing, singing and a Chinese martial arts performance.
For students, entry can be gained by either paying $3 or bringing three canned food items to the door. For outside members of the community, the fee is $5.
Although the celebration is only a week long, for students who are interested in either Asian studies, or learning an Asian language, the Chinese language department offers courses from beginning to intermediate, and hopes to expand their department in the future.