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Asian Fest to connect students, Eastern culture

Nov. 9, 2006

By GRACE MAALOUF
Reporter

Baylor students will have the chance to get a taste of Asian culture this weekend when the Asian Students Association hosts the sixth-annual AsianFest.

The festival begins with a banquet at 6:30 p.m. today in the exhibit hall of Mayborn Museum Complex.

Helen Zia, an award-winning journalist and author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, will speak about Asian-American identity and culture, said Houston sophomore Albert Ho, president of the Asian Students Association.

After her speech, Zia will answer questions about the importance of Asian-American identity and the difference between being Asian and being Asian-American, Houston senior and association member Elaine Yeung said.

Yeung said the banquet will be a good chance for students to expose themselves to new ideas and hear an Asian-American activist speak.

"It's important to have a broad perspective," Yeung said.

The banquet will also feature Chinese food prepared by Aramark chefs who went to local Chinese restaurants to learn to perfect their own techniques, Ho said.

Although the dinner costs $12, Ho said open seating will be available for students who wish to attend solely to listen to the speaker.

Those students will be allowed in about half an hour after the event begins, Ho said.

Asian Fest will continue Friday with Pandamonium, a culture show featuring performances by 13 different groups, including cultural groups, such as the Vietnamese Student Association, the Filippino Student Association and the Latin Dance Society.

Others performers will be student groups unaffiliated with an organization who wanted to perform their own material, Ho said.

Another feature of Pandamonium will be a fashion show presenting the progression of attire in five different cultures, Ho said.

It will show the changes from the old style to modern style of dress in China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and the Philippines.

"There's a huge change between traditional and modern (attire)," Ho said.

He added that a master of ceremonies will explain these changes during the show.

Ho said planning and preparation for the festival began last spring and really took off in the last two months.

He said the association is expecting more than 400 people to attend the culture show.

This is the second year the show has been a part of the festival.

Ho said about 150 people were expected to attend last year, but because that number doubled, the group decided to move the event outside for this year.

The show will now take place at the Vara Martin Daniel Plaza, outside the Bill Daniel Student Center.

Plano senior Stacy Chen, the association's external vice president, said there were initial concerns about rain affecting the show.

"But now that the weather has cleared up, we're hoping for a big turnout," Chen said.

"It can rain a lot once we're done."

Ho said he hopes the event will promote awareness of cultural identity and foster unity between organizations.

"We're bringing in lots of organizations to do this, and I'm hoping for more camaraderie, fellowship and collaboration between them," Ho said.

"Also, I just want people to have fun."