By EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH
As school assignments and work make up most students’ weekends, leaving the comfort of one’s hall and bed to the outside world seems like a daunting task, much less leaving the University of Mary Washington campus.
However, students were only $3 or three canned goods away from getting a stamp on their hand that would whisk them into a beautiful night. For, thankfully, this past weekend UMW was able to bring pieces of global culture to students.
This year’s “Taste of Asia,” an annual event celebrating Asian culture, brought in hundreds of students, faculty and members of the community, while it filled up the 14 tables lined in the new Chandler Ballroom of the University Center. The year’s theme was “East Meets West,” in which cultures from eastern and western countries were celebrated and merged.
The multiple cultures that came together were not only limited to the event’s theme. Different UMW groups, from Eagle Bhangra and Hindi Steez alongside the UMW Breakers, the university’s breakdance group, were amongst those who pumped up the stage.
In addition, UMW groups performed on the same night as M&S Studios, a dance studio in Fredericksburg and Laughing Dragon, a Kung-Fu Martial Arts studio from Charlottesville.
The James Farmer Multicultural Center, UMW Police, the SAE and the Finance Committee were just a few of the many sponsors from that night. “Beautiful Night” was the name of one of three songs that made up the “Taste of Asia’s” opening act, a K-Pop performance put together by the Asian Student Association.
Eagle Bhangra, who performed later in the show, created a rush of brilliantly colored robes, the clacking of sapps, a wooden instrument that resembles an accordion and infectious energy.
Other events included a contemplative and beautiful music performance by Jin Wan, playing a Chinese stringed instrument called the Guzheng.
Next was a moving song in Mandarin Chinese by UMW senior Jennifer Bognar, accompanied by larger-than-life dragons donned by Laughing Dragon Martial Arts, one which went out into the audience and managed to scare a few members of the audience.
Bollywood dancing performed by UMW sophomore Daksha Khatri and her cousin Rachna Khatri rounded out the performances. Last but not least was the fashion show, which serves as a capstone event each year.
Later, a fashion show represented upwards of nine countries including India, Vietnam, China and the Philippines with the help of models, many who were UMW students, wearing beautiful robes, dresses and dress shirts. Freshman Delsa Bambao wore a light blue and silver sequined dress with squared shoulder pads and sleeves with a flower in the center. “My friend’s mom got it from the Phillipines,” Bambao said.
This was Bambao’s first time being involved with “Taste of Asia.” According to her, the rehearsals for the fashion show did not take long to go through, yet there was plenty happening behind the scenes and following the show that made the event busy, yet fun.
“I liked it a lot,” Bambao said. “This was my first time, so it was really exciting. It kept me busy.”
The show ended with a bang with UMW Breakers performed a breakdance routine and several members free styled, wowing the audience with gravity-defying twists and swagger.
Julianna Sarahcho, junior business major, choreographed the K-pop number and is secretary and treasurer of UMW Breakers. Most of UMW Breakers are comprised of alumni who had graduated last semester and of students who just joined this semester. The “Taste of Asia” celebration is one of their largest performance of the year, according to Sarahcho.
Then came the food. After the performances, people with certain colored tickets were allowed to leave the Ballroom in sections to receive assembly lines of dishes donated from local businesses such as Fortune House Chinese Restaurant and Bonchon chicken, a Korean-style restaurant in Fredericksburg.
Vietnamese and Chinese spring rolls were also available as appetizers at each table in the Ballroom. The main dishes were Korean Bulgogi, Thai Pad See Ew and Indian Naan, which were hot and tasty accompanied with spices one would not usually come across. This including a side dish made of spinach, which was ground and stirred into a paste and served with potatoes.
Accompanying the spicy food was chai iced tea, a staple in many Asian countries. Even if you are not a fan of tea, the tea’s sweetness was hard to resist, particularly since it was served over crushed ice.
With Chinese Guzheng and hip-hop, fully costumed dragons and an eight-pin juggling routine, Bhangra and Bollywood dancing, students and teachers, members of the community and beyond, “Taste of Asia” more than accomplished its goal of a multicultural event, giving everyone more than a taste of something different and meaningful.