By Sarah Pyo | Editor-in-Chief
For the first time, Baylor’s department of multicultural affairs has dedicated a month to recognizing and bringing awareness to Asian culture on-campus.
10 distinct Asian cultural events hosted by Asian organizations on campus take place from Oct. 17 to Nov. 18 for Baylor students, faculty and staff to participate in.
The Coalition of Asian Students, along with the department of multicultural affairs, worked together to improve cultural diversity and follow the department’s goal of “encouraging [students] to celebrate their personal heritage and embrace the cultures of others,” according to the department’s mission statement.
“The Asian population in the university was very disconnected,” said McAllen senior Yoonki Na, intern for the department of multicultural affairs and chair of the Coalition of Asian Students. “So by unifying all of them together, we can have better communication. We can support each other and also help each other.”
The coalition was newly formed this past summer, and it’s composed of 14 of the 18 Asian organizations on campus – Asian Student Association, Filipino Student Association, Korean Student Association, Vietnamese Student Association, Indian Subcontinent Student Association, Chinese Students and Scholars Association, Japanese Student Association, Asian Ministry Intervarsity, Kendo, Tae-Kwon-Do, Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, Lambda Phi Epsilon, Baylor Chinese Club and the National Japanese Honor Society.
Each of the participating organizations elects one representative for the coalition each semester. The members of the coalition collaborate with one another to prepare for the events and help spread awareness. Although the coalition is supported by the department of multicultural affairs, it is completely student-led.
“I’m definitely beyond excited because the students have been the driving force behind the events,” said Pearlie Beverly, director of the department of multicultural affairs. “They own it, and that’s what’s important. When you say the concept of student-led, staff-supported, this one is it all the way.”
The multicultural department has been growing every year and has been working hard to better cultural diversity within campus. The department will be seeing an expansion in the coming year. The office for multicultural affairs is currently on the second floor of the Bill Daniels Student Center, but will relocate to a larger space across from the office of Student Activities.
“I’m excited that the university sees the need for such an endeavor,” Beverly said. “We’re not just serving the minority population, we’re serving all students. The education is so important, because you want, as much as possible, to teach appreciation of each other and their cultures.”
The department had only hosted Hispanic and black heritage months in previous years. So far, out of all the events, the coalition saw its biggest turnout of over 500 people with the Asian Fest Culture Show on Oct. 28.
“I think events like Asian Fest that provide people with an opportunity to come together and freely share in a common interest and then express themselves through performance are great because it cultivates the culture of those involved and also gives spectators a glimpse of that culture and the possibility of exploring more,” said Houston senior Stanley Ly, representative for the Asian Ministry Intervarsity.
All of the events for Asian Heritage Month could not have been possible without the passion of the students, Beverly said. The goal of the coalition is to continue fueling this passion in future years, setting a strong foundation to preserve its efforts and spreading Asian cultural awareness.
“Everything is according to the students’ drive. I can want it for them or the department can want it for them, but the students have to want it for themselves.” Beverly said.