The 2020 Asian Cultural Celebration commemorates the year of the rat through activities such as brush calligraphy, JPOP dancing, a tea ceremony and an Asian meal. The event was hosted by the Asian Studies Club in Lamberton Hall on March 2.
Kiri Lee, director and academic adviser for the Asian studies program, organized much of the celebration.
The annual event took on a new name this year, Lee said. The old name was “Lunar New Year’s Celebration” because some of the countries in Asia celebrate the New Year based on the lunar calendar.
However, that is not the same for Asian countries, such as Japan, which follows the Western calendar, she said.
The department decided to use the name “Asian Culture Celebration” because it encompasses all countries regardless of which calendar they use, and it prevents the date being changed each year due to the lunar calendar.
The event is organized by faculty. Lee said she wanted students to see the faculty in an everyday manner surrounded by cultural activities.
“We wanted to bring both non-Asian students and the Asian students to one place to get to know each other through activities,” Lee said. “That’s why it is very activity-centered.”
Faculty helped to lead activities.
Almost every student participated in the JPOP dancing demonstration, which was led by Kyoko Taniguchi, a professor of modern languages and literature.
Taniguchi taught students the dance in segments until the group could do the dance altogether.
Thomas Chen and Nobuko Yamasaki, professors of modern languages and literature, led Chinese chess and the matcha tea ceremony, respectively.
Lee helped students learn ink brush calligraphy, and a group of visiting students from Japan helped teach origami.
The visiting students are from a university in Japan. This year, Lehigh students studying Japanese got matched with the Japanese visiting students as buddies.
Buddies came to the celebration together to dance, laugh, eat and celebrate.
Nattapat Intarachumnum, ‘22, is from Irvine, California, but lived in Thailand until three years ago.
She is on the executive board for Thai Student Association and helped revamp the group after the Thai population at Lehigh decreased.
“We want to spread Thai culture,” she said. “Our culture is very different (than other Asian cultures). The language is different, the food, the culture.”
Intarachumnum wrote attendees’ names in the Thai alphabet and helped them write it on their own. She explained that the Thai alphabet is different from other languages.
She said since there is an increase in travel to Thailand among college students, she thought it would be helpful for them to learn more about Thai culture.
Chesphongphach Buranasilp, ‘21, said he and his friends that are in the Thai club attended the event together.
“It’s important to share some culture; to share our experiences with other people,” he said.
Buranasilp showed students how to play Thai games that involved dice-like objects.
Another well-known Asian game is Kendama — a stick with two cups on one end. Lee said the game is very popular, and it is now played in America.
Lee said the Asian studies program is interdisciplinary, and students complete a capstone project senior year to help show their required intermediate language proficiency.
“We try to give students a systematic kind of training to understand about Asia,” Lee said.