Asian American Students in Action kicked off the Asian American Heritage Month April 9 with their first ever outdoor convocation.
Students gathered under a brightly-lit tent in the rain that evening to take part in the first event of Asian American Heritage month.
Ruko Takeuchi ’00, co-coordinator of AASiA said she was pleasantly surprised by the attendance.
“It turned out better than I expected. There was more audience participation, a lot of cheering going on,” Takeuchi said. “When I went to convocation last year, it seemed like a solemn and serious thing, like AASiA was presenting something. This year it was more personal.”
Students were crowding into the tent, and the event quickly became standing room only, with many students actually outside holding umbrellas. Claire Shin ’99, co-coordinator of AASiA, said she felt the use of space helped to provide a more personal, informal atmosphere.
“One thing that was really special was that the tent created a really unique kind of space. With the lighting and the size of the tent everyone was really crowded together, and the laughing and the applause in the tent made it a really close kind of space,” Shin said. “It made it easier for the performers to relate to the audience and the audience to relate to the performers.”
Medha Kirtane ’00, Vineeta Mahajan ’00, Sadaf Ahmad ’01, Ami Parekh ’01, Suneeta Tiruviluamala ’00, Boudhayan Sen ’00, Pranjal Mehta ’99, Sheraz Choudhary ’00 and Amish Shah ’00 opened the event with a traditional Indian Village Dance.
Julie Hwang ’98, Owen Cooney ’00 and Yui Haraguchi ’00 performed songs by Christ Iijima and Nobuko Miyamoto, two artists active in the Asian American movement. Masato Sudo ’01, MinCo representative for AASiA, gave a speech on “Being an Asian American at Williams College,” and Grant Koo ’98 read poetry. Lincoln Pan ’98, co-coordinator of MINCO, spoke about generations of Asian Americans and their links to the current generation.
To conclude the presentation, a slide show produced by Yung-En Chen ’99, was shown while live music by Haraguchi, Cooney, Azell Archie ’00 and Jeremy Roth-Kushel ’00 played in the background.
“I think it’s important to see artwork; it gives more dimension to Asian American identity,” Chen said. “We can see ourselves as scholars, doctors and mathematicians, but we can also see ourselves as singers, dancers, visual artists and musicians. That’s sort of why I did the slide show.”
The Convocation involved Asian students from all backgrounds.
“The great thing about [the convocation] was there were not just Asians there. I looked around and there were people of many different races there,” Anh Nguyen ’99 said.
The theme for the month, “Generasians,” speaks about the many different ways of creating as well as generating ideas about the new Asian American generation.
“A lot of students at Williams feel that we are moving on towards a new Asian group. It’s more about a new generation of Asians who are living and forming and acting,” Takeuchi said. “We can’t really speak much about the historical events, but the whole idea is about generating ideas and being active in other ways, in other forms, not necessarily politically, but living and doing their thing.”
Many events, including dance performances, ethnic dinners, lectures and lunch fora are coming up this month, and AASiA encourages students to come because in past years, many of the events have been sold out.
“I would like people to attend of course, but I’d like them to come with no preconceptions, or ideas about what things are supposed to be or mean,” Shin said.