The week celebrates Asian culture

Joy Marie Hallare / The Collegian

Lions, flowers and butterflies came together last week to celebrate the variety of traditions that represent different Asian cultures.

Amerasia Week featured different Asian cultures, Wednesday through Saturday, sharing about each culture through dances, songs and theater performances in the Satellite Student Union.

Vong Yang, the president of the Amerasia Organization, said Amerasia Week began in 1971 with the intention of sharing a variety of Asian cultures, highlighting their differences and similarities.

“Amerasia Week began because of the need to celebrate our culture, and at the same time to create an identity for Asian-Americans,” Yang said. “Since then, Amerasia Organization has been continuing the tradition of celebrating and empowering the Asian-American community.”

Yang has been involved with the Amerasia Organization for three years. He said the organization was created to have a group at Fresno State that focused on Asian-Americans as a whole, rather than on one Asian culture.

Yang said Amerasia Week organizers wanted to demonstrate that Asian-Americans identify with both their Asian heritage and their integration of America culture. He said the event blended traditional cultural dances and songs with Asian hip-hop groups to show the mix of old and new.

Amerasia Week featured dance and songs from many different Asian countries, including Japan, Thailand, Laos, China and the Philippines. The closing event, “Festival Night,” had 17 performances.

One of the performances was a Chinese lion dance, which is supposed to bring good luck in the Chinese New Year. Two lions, dressed in vibrant colors, danced across the stage interacting with the drum that set their beat.

Another performance was about the afterlife of two lovers who, much like Romeo and Juliet, committed suicide when their parents did not allow them to be together. However, unlike Romeo and Juliet, they turned into two butterflies and danced together in the afterlife.

Festival Night also had a drawing that gave away “things that Asian families usually have at home,” Yang said.

The night concluded with a fashion show to display traditional garb throughout Asia.

Kabao Vang, the co-chair of Amerasia Week, said the group worked hard to illustrate the differences between the many Asian cultures present in the Fresno area.
“We want to let the community know how diverse Fresno really is,” Vang said.

She said Amerasia Organization also fundraised all year to create a scholarship to support an Asian-American student at Fresno State.

“We wanted to put a scholarship together for Asian-American students struggling to afford school,” Vang said.

Joe Cha received the $500 Amerasia Higher Learning Scholarship. He is double majoring in health science and business finance, with plans to work in health policy and management.

Cha said he plans to use the money wisely and was grateful for being selected.

“I think it’s an honor to get the scholarship,” Cha said. “I am very excited.”

He said this was his first time attending Amerasia Week, and he plans to come back next year.

“Next year I’m going to bring my whole family,” Cha said.

Cha said he thinks people tend to miss the differences between Asian cultures, so he was pleased that Amerasia week helped expose the various aspects of different groups.

“I like the event, because it is also a learning experience,” Cha said.

He said he also appreciated the way Amerasia Week demonstrated the fusion of tradition and modern that many Asian-Americans experience.

“It is a struggle,” Cha said. “But one thing I realize, I can be both traditionalized and American.”

Physical therapy major William Minh said he came to watch his friend perform, but was convinced to stay for the whole show.

“I was stunned by the performances,” Minh said. “It was pretty interesting, just looking at all the cultures.”

Minh said he plans to come back next year and check out what is new.

Child development major Lin Chang has been to Amerasia Week for the past three years. Chang said he was pleased that the performances demonstrated the differences between Asian cultures.

“I think it’s a great way to express the Asian cultures throughout the community of Fresno,” Chang said.

Yang said the organization hopes to find a variety of groups to participate in Amerasia Week next year.

“We are always looking for ways to enrich the diversity and looking for new groups to participate,” Yang said.

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