Asian-Pacific American Student Union’s ‘Multicultural Night’ Celebrates Diversity and Asian Culture

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Photo Courtesy of Elena Harris

Paula Phounsavath, Editor in Chief

Originally published December 6, 2021.

 

The Asian-Pacific American Student Union (also known as APASU ) collaborated among other diversity organizations for “Multicultural Night” on Dec. 1. For the first time in two years, the event was held in person. It was hosted at Kaufmann Mall, with various tables showing organizations such as the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), Japanese-American Student Association (JASA), ODU Model United Nations (ODU MUN), and the Chinese Student Association (CSA).

 

It is often known in ODU’s Asian community as one of the biggest events during the Fall semester. Both current and former ODU students from these organizations come together to reunite with friends and colleagues.

 

“Our main goal is to bring everybody under one umbrella and work together,” said Ethan Schroeder, APASU’s president. “A large part of our members are Asian, but that’s not only [ethnicity], we have members from all the different races. APASU is not exclusive.”

 

APASU’s Culture Chair, Sophia Marie-Porter, says that the night was held just in time for people to relax before finals.

 
Photo Courtesy of Elena Harris
 

This is a social event for everyone to come out after class, take a little debrief, and hang out with friends and make friends,” said Marie-Porter.

 

Marie-Porter also said, “One of the challenges we had was getting other orgs to come out and participate with us since APASU is not the only organization on-campus affected by COVID.”

 

Not only were students mingling around with one another, but some were also playing games each tabling event offers, such as a dice game from the VSA’s table called, “Bầu Cua Cá Cọp.” Players would place a bet on the six ‘pips’ shown in the map and if a die (or two) corresponds to their bet, then the better would receive the same amount of money for their bet. In this case, money was not gambled for, instead of stickers and other VSA’s merchandise.

 

The raffle tickets for prizes were called out every 20 minutes. Tickets were $2 each, $8 for five, and $14 for 10 tickets. All proceeds went straight to Liberty in North Korea, an organization that helps North Korean refugees. Winners would receive either APASU’s merchandise, an iPad, or a Canon square selfie.

 
Photo Courtesy of Elena Harris
 

Derrick Merkel, the undersecretary of general staff for ODU MUN, had their table set up for this event in support of APASU.

 

“First and foremost, our club is a very diverse club and so, a lot of club members come from different cultures and ethnicities,” Merkel said.

 

He also pointed out that there still are challenges that not only the community face but also minority races face with discrimination.

 

“There’s still discrimination against people based off of their race, gender, or their sexuality.”

 

Merkel also said, “At least for us, the way we take it being such a diverse group, we don’t take discrimination lightly.”

 

A performance from JASA came around 5:30 p.m. as they presented a mini ‘fashion show’ of the different styles of traditional Japanese kimonos.

 

Despite the last-minute event promotion, the turnout for the event was surprisingly crowded, as around 60-70 guests showed up to the event. Catering was provided by Panda Express later in the evening, as most students quickly lined up to grab the food served by the APASU’s e-board.

 

A member of APASU, Kevin Boyd, says that this event, “gives a sense of normalcy,” from COVID-19. He said, “It’s nice to come back to events that have happened for years and it’s still happening.”

 
Photo Courtesy of Elena Harris
 

Though Boyd is not Asian by ethnicity, he has an appreciation for the culture. Boyd said, “As a white guy, it’s pretty cool to see all the diversity and to learn about the culture in whichever ways we do it.”

 

Merkel also emphasized that he looks forward to more events for students to come together. He said, “Instead of being like, ‘oh, people are just hating on each other because they’re Asian or they’re Black or Hispanic.’ Everyone has to look past that and realize, ‘Hey, we’re all human.’ There’s no need to look down on someone because they aren’t the skin tone you want them to be.”