Asian Student Association strives to build cross-cultural community

Photo courtesy of Baylor Asian Student Association.

By Samantha Garza | Staff Writer

Rechartered in 1997, the Asian Student Association (ASA) continues to bridge the gap between the Asian community and the rest of the student body. Through social and cultural events like AsianFest and Lunar New Year, ASA hopes not only to bring different Asian subcultures together but also to unite the Baylor community.

Euless junior and ASA treasurer Megan Ja said the group wants to unify different people from different cultures.

“There’s a lot of organizations on campus that are very specific to different Asian cultures, but we’re the Asian Student Association, so we try to bring everyone together through that,” Ja said.

Since there are many different Asian student organizations — including the Korean Student Association, the Vietnamese Student Association and the Japanese Student Association — Waimea, Hawaii, junior and ASA president Lily Ameika said ASA tries to make everyone feel included and equally represented.

Ameika said that every month, during one of their general meetings, ASA’s culture chair chooses a country of the month; they talk about that country and even bring its authentic food.

Although members of ASA have made it a mission to unite everyone, Ja said some polarization exists among different Asian cultures, which can present challenges.

“Our advisers talked a lot with us this semester about how there’s definitely a lot of polarization throughout the Asian cultures and Asian Americans specifically that just comes from a long line of generational difficulties,” Ja said. “And that has created a lot of polarization in a lot of the Asian communities.”

Ja said ASA tries to alleviate tension among cultures and strengthen friendship among communities by holding socials every other week — sometimes as a collaborative effort with other Asian student organizations. Ameika said these are small events where people can gather together, discuss their different cultures and bond over some delicious food.

Two of the biggest events that ASA hosts to promote friendship and community are AsianFest and Lunar New Year.

AsianFest is a cultural showcase and takes place in the fall. Different Asian student organizations are invited to perform in front of everyone.

“It’s a really good event for people to just come watch performances and appreciate other people’s culture,” Ameika said.

Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations in various Asian cultures and takes place in the spring. ASA celebrates it with a carnival; Ameika said there will be a mix of cultural games and modern games people can play to win prizes, and there will also be a small showcase afterward.

“I’m from a small town, so [coming to Baylor] was a little overwhelming, and ASA helped me find my place in the university,” Ameika said. “As president, I want to do that. I want to help people find their place and not be ashamed of who they are and what their culture is and just be proud of who they are.”