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ASA celebrates various cultures

Nov. 17, 1998




The Asian Student Association had its annual Asian Festival on Saturday. The festival consisted of a performance and a dinner.

'The dinner was different foods from Asian countries,' said Stephanie Lee, an El Paso junior and service chair of the association.

About 30 students participated in singing, dancing, or martial arts.

'We wanted to expose our culture on campus without the use of academics. We wanted students to feel comfortable,' Lee said.

Lee said she hopes the show displayed the differences between the cultures.

Bounthot Sysarath, a junior from Grand Prairie, is the president of the association.

'My background is from Laos Thai, which is in Southeast Asia,' Sysarath said.

Sysarath explained the similarities the different facets share.

'The southern and northern parts share different music, dance and martial arts,' Sysarath said.

Sysarath also tried to explain why people also generalize all Asians as being Chinese.

'The Chinese dominate Asia and have a closer connection with society, and because of this some southern parts don't get recognized,' Sysarath said.

Sysarath said this creates a loss of identity and culture.

'We have about 80 members, and we tried to tell everyone it is OK to be a minority, and it is important to keep our heritage,' Sysarath said.

Grace Lee, a Taiwanese freshman from Houston, is trying to preserve her heritage.

'The dance I performed is an aboriginal tribal dance that originated from the war areas of Taiwan. It was performed during harvest time,' Lee said.

Lee said the Taiwanese made up one-third of the people before the Chinese came.

'My mom was born and raised there (in Taiwan), and she teaches me a lot of our history. I have to take my shoes off before entering the house, I speak the language and we cook they way they do back home,' Lee said.

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