by Andrea Alumbaugh
Indiana Daily Student
Published Monday, March 27, 2006
Hundreds of people spanning a wide range of ages and backgrounds gathered at the IU Auditorium Sunday night to get a “Taste of Asia” at the Asian American Association’s 13th annual celebratory and cultural event. A variety of performances primarily from IU student groups preceded a sampling of various Asian foods Bloomington restaurants donated.
Before venturing into the auditorium lobby for foods like baked dolma (vegetables wrapped in grape leaves) from Anatolia or sesame chicken from Chow Bar, performers presented audience members with acts that showed the span of cultures that comprise Asia.
AAA President Tony Truong and Vice President Dan Stanko emceed the event, which opened with a duet on kotos, Japanese stringed instruments. This was the night’s first of three musical acts, including the IU Samulnori Percussion Ensemble and a piano, guitar and voice performance of Chinese pop songs by freshman Jerry Sun.
Other acts included a modern Malay dance by the Malaysian Student Association, a traditional Indonesian dance and a Tae Kwon Do demonstration by the IU Tae Kwon Do Club that involved members doing nunchaku, katana and fighting displays. Members also broke boards with their arms, heads and feet and one man shattered a block of ice with his head.
Freshman Sameera Bolloju said she came to see some of her friends who were performing, but her favorite act was slam-poet Phuc Nguyen.
Nguyen, a sophomore from Purdue, delivered poems with fast-paced language on topics ranging from what really happens in Chinese restaurants to channeling Bruce Lee.
“I am chasing Bruce Lee until I am me,” he concluded before bowing to the audience.
Senior Tabby Laigle also attended the event to see her friends perform, but said she also appreciated Nguyen’s act.
“I liked that he brought out some issues about Asians and Asian Americans that aren’t frequently talked about,” she said.
Asian Culture Center Director Melanie Castillo-Cullather came to the event with her neighbor and her two children, who are 9 and 10. She said their favorite part was the Chinese yo-yo demonstration. Four members from the IU Chinese Yo-Yo Club bounced and hurled the yo-yos high into the air using two sticks joined by a string to the gasps and applause of children and adults alike.
Although Castillo-Cullather said she was very impressed with all the acts, her favorite parts were the personal stories interspersed between the other acts in which individuals attempted to illuminate some aspect of the Asian experience as part of the night’s “Stories From Another Life” theme.
ACC graduate assistant Cheng-yi Liu spoke about his Asian mother, who he said always enters a restaurant and walks around to see what others have ordered, and who one time gave a duck in her backyard Tylenol because she mistook its egg-laying convulsions for a serious illness.
“Asian mothers do funny things,” he said as audience members laughed and nodded, “but that’s what makes them special.”
Thuc D Truong, Tony Truong’s father, described his experience as a refugee fleeing Vietnam in 1975 after the fall of South Vietnam. After selling a pair of pants and a shirt he was given by the American Red Cross for $1 and treating himself and his two friends each to a soda, he entered the United States with one dime in his pocket.
Truong said his life completely turned around within five years, from pondering his uncertainty as a refugee, to becoming a chicken man in an American poultry factory, to receiving an electrical engineering degree from Penn State University.
“To this I would say ‘only in America,'” he said.
Tony Truong said hearing his father’s story has always put things into perspective for him. Although he said he cannot fully relate, he appreciates what his father has done to make things possible for him and his three siblings.
Although the crowd size, which Truong estimated between 500 and 700 people, fell below the 1,000 mark the group had hoped for, he said he was pleased with the overall event and thought the audience was receptive.
“I’m a little overwhelmed and a little tired,” he said over the din of hundreds of people milling about the auditorium lobby in search of Asian cuisine. “I think everything went great; the performances were great. You couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
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