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Taste of Culture explores Asian and Pacific Islander heritage


Maghan Spargo / THE GATEPOST

By Jack McLaughlin

Arts & Features Editor


Students and faculty gathered in the McCarthy Dining Annex April 17 for the second Taste of Culture event this semester, centered around Asian and Pacific Islander culture. 


In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) hosted the event with a variety of different Asian foods and entertainment.


The food selection included baby bok choy, ginger chicken, vegetable lo mein, among a variety of beverages and dessert options. 


Jerome Burke, director of the CIE, opened the event by first discussing the importance of hosting events such as this when it comes to bringing more awareness to different cultures on campus, and said it’s “a great way to learn about the person you’re sitting next to.”


Burke also commented on the event bringing more attention to the Asian American and Pacific Islander population, and he talked about the significant contributions they’ve made to our world. 


He then directed the attendees’ attention to the back of the dining annex, where a group of performers were prepared to do a lion dance, a traditional practice in Chinese culture and other Asian countries. 


After this, Burke introduced a member of the Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy to provide context for the lion dance and explain the significance of it in Asian culture. 


The speaker from the academy then spoke to the audience about their organization and more information about the dance they were about to see. 


She began by explaining how the lion dance traditionally occurs during Chinese New Year, and the dance is meant to be a symbol of good luck, she said. 


After this, she encouraged those in the audience to visit Chinatown in Boston during Chinese New Year so they have the opportunity to see a lion dance and described it as “the most amazing thing.”


She then talked about the significance of the lion, and how it is a mythical creature that “comes down from the mountain during New Year to celebrate all the bad monsters and all the bad spirits, so that way it brings good luck,” she said. 


This year represents the wood dragon, she said, and explained that “if you’re trying to make a big move, this is the year to do it.”


Next, she began to describe the dance that the audience was about to see. A series of lions were going to walk around the area, and while that is happening there’s going to be “drumming, cymbaling, there’s going to be lots of noise,” she said.


She encouraged the audience to participate in the dance by cheering on the performers, and said, “The more cheering that they hear, the more animated they will be.”


During the dance, she also said there was going to be oranges thrown to the audience. The symbolism of the oranges is that they represent gold, and lettuce will also be thrown at attendees. 


Traditionally, the lettuce is sprinkled on the ground while the lion dance is happening, but for the sake of not making a mess they opted to forgo this tradition. 


Following this, the dance took place and afterward Burke concluded the event by thanking those for attending and taking the effort to “learn more about the student sitting next to you.” 


Taimoor Khan, diversity peer influencer for the CIE, talked about how events like this create a comfortable space for students to have the chance to learn about different cultures outside of their own. 


“We give students an opportunity to interact with each other. And by making it a safe space, students can come, they can learn, have a fun time, and make new friends,” Khan said. 

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