Festival celebrates Asian cultures


Student Chiaki Arai teaches people traditional Japanese paper folding at Asian Fest sponsored by the IU Asian Culture center in cooperation with the City of Bloomington’s Safe and Civil Program and the Bloomington Farmers Market on Saturday. Matailong Du Buy Photos

Asianfest is an annual event sponsored by the Asian Cultural Center and the City of Bloomington to celebrate and embrace Asian culture city-wide, ACC Student Outreach
Coordinator Sarah Moon said.

“This is our biggest event for the community,” Moon said. “All ACC events are open to community members, but they often think it’s just for students. I like this event because it brings the campus and community all together.”

It goes to show how active the Asian and Asian-American community is in Bloomington, she added.

“I think it’s important for our community to see how many Asian cultures there are even in Indiana,” Moon said. “Asian cultures are really important and vibrant in Bloomington. We have so many countries represented, not just at the college, but in the community.”

Moon said she hopes by sponsoring a community culture event, students will feel more welcome in the city.

“Showing the different cultures in the city shows even students are a part of this community and can branch out of just campus life,” she said.

Asianfest consisted of 11 cultural performances, including classical Indian dance, Japanese folk songs and Chinese music performed by children from the TianTian
Chinese Weekend School.

The event also included two cooking demos, during which cooks taught a crowd to make Vietnamese stir-fried cellophane noodles and Chinese eggplant in a fragrant fish sauce.

“We always have cultural tables, cooking demos and cultural performances, but the performances always change,” Moon said. “It’s really based on what people have to offer.”

This year, 13 different tables set up, giving henna tattoos, offering origami lessons and chopstick challenges and teaching people how to write in Chinese and Korean characters.

“It’s fun and festive, and people are learning,” Moon said. “But I feel like their learning is more engaging, and it’ll actually stay with them. It’s a neat and fun way for children to get introduced to the culture outside of a classroom.”

Xinyi Shen, a graduate student in education at IU, said she appreciated seeing countries other than China represented.

“I have never been to another country besides China,” Shen said. “I wanted to know other countries other than China that are Asian. That’s why this is important.”
Zhen Zhang, a graduate student in environmental management, said he was happy to see the city interact with Asian cultures.

“We live here as students and scholars,” Zhang said. “There are so many of us sharing
at the University, but it is good for the local people to know about local Asian culture.
Having many different people coming together is very happy.”

He said it helped take the edge off of being outside his native country.

“Because we are in a foreign country, being able to meet some people in the same situation is a very great thing for us,” he said.

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