Low tables and couches were arranged, trays of food were lined up along the window and people of many backgrounds and cultures flooded the room.
On Friday, the East Asian Studies Center and the East Asian Languages and Cultures department’s annual welcome back party featured food from Korea, Japan and China.
The party also featured a traditional cake ceremony performed by Theresa Kang, associate director of the EASC.
Students and faculty could be heard speaking in several different languages, including Chinese and English, as they ate and mingled during the party. Though some discussions revolved around China, most conversations instead revolved around the food.
“The ddeokbokki was my personal favorite,” second year graduate student Evan Bracken said, referring to a Korean rice and fish cake in a spicy sauce.
Other Korean dishes included haemul pajeon, which translates directly to a seafood and green onion pancake and tastes just like you would expect, said EALC program assistant Samson Lotven.
A huge arrangement of sushi rolls filled with seafood and vegetables formed the centerpiece of the Japanese table. Tempura fish and vegetables were also a popular choice.
The table of Chinese food featured vegetable spring rolls, white rice and pepper beef, a roast of beef with onions and bell peppers.
Though forks were offered, most people opted to try their hand at using chopsticks, with varying levels of success.
Nearly every dish was popular enough that almost all of it had been eaten by the end of the event.
The faculty managed to pull the crowd’s attention away from the food for a few remarks.
EASC interim director Sara Friedman, Kang and EALC chair Scott O’Bryan introduced members of their faculty in attendance and brought attention to events sponsored by the two departments.
“Most of what we do is outreach,” Lotven said. “So unless you have people coming in, seeing it and understanding how they can help, that stuff doesn’t have as much of a voice.”
Friedman announced a Taiwanese film series beginning in September and IU’s third annual Korean Night, which will take place Saturday,Oct. 3.
The film series will include food, performances and guest speakers.
Friedman also encouraged those in attendance to consider volunteering for the EASC and EALC.
“With all of this outreach that we do, there’s nothing negative about those experiences,” Lotven said. “It’s nice to expose that kind of thing to people, the things we don’t have access to, the things we don’t have a word for in English.”
Though the party happens annually, this year’s celebration was particularly significant.
The new building, which was completed just before the start of the school year, represents the coming together of the EASC and the EALC.
These two departments, though closely related, were previously in separate buildings, O’Bryan said.
“IU has been incredibly devoted to international studies for over 50 years,” O’Bryan said. “But we’re reconceiving it and bringing people together in different ways.”
Several students echoed this idea.
“I’m glad this department gets the recognition it deserves now,” junior Jay Kaiser said.
O’Bryan said the new space is more than a building
“It’s about being able to interact intellectually and to have the spaces to get to know students and each other,” he said.
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