The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Asian week celebrates diversity

Program Council’s Asian Cultural Committee is devoting this week to educating the SMU community about the different aspects of Asian life.

The Asian community ranges from “Russia to China to India to Saudi Arabia,” said sophomore Sabeena Rahman, the Asian Cultural Committee Chairwoman.

The committee has prepared a week of fun and games as well as speakers and poetry. By taking a light-hearted attitude, they hope to get campus-wide participation.

“The goal is to talk about Asia in an over-arching perspective,” Michelle Espino, coordinator of student programs, said. “This year they are trying to teach about things you wouldn’t know about Asia, and do it in a fun way.”

Program Council and its Asian Cultural Committee are working in conjunction with the Iranian Students Academic and Cultural Organization, the Indian Students Association, the Vietnamese Student Association and the East Asian Student Association.

The festivities began Saturday night with the celebration of Norooz, the Persian New Year. Shereen Bakhshian said most Iranians celebrate Norooz. The celebration consists of traditional Persian dances, songs and foods. People also dress up like the cultural figures such as Nane Sarma, the “mother of cold,” Amoo Norooz, the “uncle of the New Year” and Hagi Firooz, “the jokester”.

This is the first year that there has been a Norooz celebration on campus.

“For the past 20 years there was nothing like this done on campus,” Bakhshian said. “It is a tradition we wanted to start.”

The celebration was held at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Umphrey Lee Ballroom and was open to SMU students, faculty and members of the Dallas community.

Bakhshian said the event brought together a number of Iranian organizations from different universities including University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, University of North Texas, University of Dallas and University of Houston.

Monday the sunny sky was filled with colorfully decorated kites as Basant Kite flying lined the main quad. The Asian tradition of kite flying started in Pakistan and India to welcome the coming of spring.

Junior Asad Rahman, an Asian Cultural Committee member, suggested the idea.

“I did it once when I lived in Pakistan and thought it would be a good idea to do it here,” Asad said.

The kite flying was not only enjoyed by the SMU Asian community, but other SMU students enjoyed it as well. Michael Jordhoy, a first-year student, came out to fly kites and be with his friends.

“I have a lot of Asian friends. I love Asian Culture, and they’re a lot of fun to hang out with,” Jordhoy said.

The members of the Asian Cultural Committee were happy with the outcome.

“I am happy that people came out and are having a good time, enjoying spring and hanging out with friends,” sophomore Shama Jhaveri said.

Festivities will continue Tuesday in the Hughes Trigg commons with Chai VarsiTEA. Chai is the Hindi word for tea and as the name suggests the program will offer guest a variety of Asian teas to sample.

It will feature Asian-American music artist and speaker Magdalen Hsu-Li.

“It is a different type of music, it’s alternative,” Rahman said.

Hsu-Li will also be giving a speech entitled “Redefinition of Identity.”

“[Her speech] is about her being Asian and how it has made a difference in her life,” Rahman said.

“Play Vietnamese Style” takes place on Wednesday in the Hughes-Trigg Commons at noon. The day will offer different Vietnamese games that are open to the entire campus. The goal is for the SMU community to have fun and learn about Vietnamese culture through its games.

“People should come with an open mind to learn about our games which is another aspect of our culture,” junior Tuan Pham, treasure of the Vietnamese Students Association, said.

“Rhythms of India,” which will teach students the main classical dances of India, will take place on Thursday in the Hughes-Trigg Commons at noon. Students can learn three dances.

Bharat natyum, a classical dance taught to young girls, daandiya raas, a group dance from Northwest India used in religious ceremonies, and bhangra, an upbeat dance preferred by teenagers, will all be taught.

“The dance [bhangra] originally started to celebrate the harvest of the crops,” Payal Patel said.

The Asian Olympics will be held in the Hughes-Trigg Commons on Friday at noon. There will be displays of different countries and cultural food and games from all over Asia. The Asian Cultural Committee will have teams that represent Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.

“Anyone can come and compete in the games and represent their own country. There can be a U.S. team,” Rahman said.

The top three teams will receive gold, silver and bronze medals. The games will give students the opportunity to have fun while learning about other countries.

“I hope people will walk by and compete in the games and learn about the different countries,” Rahman said.

The Asian Cultural Week will conclude Friday night with slam poetry read by Beau Sia. The poetry will be read in the Hughes-Trigg Theater at 8 p.m. The event will be co-sponsored by Program Council’s Asian Cultural Committee and the Asian American Leadership and Education Conference.

“[Beau Sia] uses his poetry to take out his feelings about his Asian heritage and how it has affected him,” Rahman said.

The week will come to an end with the Asian American Leadership and Education Conference in which Lisa Ling, from The View will be a guest speaker.

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