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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

campus student life

IU Asian Culture Center celebrates 25th anniversary this fall

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This fall, the IU Asian Culture Center will celebrate its 25th year on the IU Bloomington campus. As part of their celebration, the Asian Culture Center will host their 25th Anniversary Weekend celebration from Oct. 27-29.

Since its founding in October 1998, the center has become a place where students can come together to learn, celebrate and affirm their Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American heritages, according to the center’s website.

The celebration weekend will begin with an alumni keynote speaker, Ami Gandhi, the director of strategic initiatives and Midwest voting rights program of Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. This keynote speaker will be followed by a panel of alumni speaking about their experiences at IU and beyond. This event, she said, will start at 3 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Collins Living Learning Center and will be followed by a reception in the Asian Culture Center, Sarah Stamey, program associate at the Asian Culture Center, said.

Stamey said the Asian Culture Center and Collins Living Learning Center are significant because when the culture center opened in 1998 a larger celebration was held in the Collins LLC courtyard.

“It's kind of a nice little homecoming to start off our weekend at Collins, again,” Stamey said.

Stamey said the center will host a lunch reception from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 28 at the center. The Asian Culture Center, she said, is partnering with the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities to complete a digital community archiving project during the lunch reception.

For the center’s 25th anniversary, according to the event website, the Asian Culture Center and the Insititute are interested in archiving objects, like photos, documents and figurines, and a story from those who are participating in the project’s time at IU or from their experiences as an Asian American or Pacific Islander in Indiana to form the center’s digital community archive.

“People are signing up to bring an object or to record an oral history or story,” Stamey said.

Stamey said the center will host an invite-only gala from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 28 in Presidents Hall. The gala, she said, will include a fashion show, cultural performances and dancing. Additionally, according to the center’s website, the gala will also feature Oscar themed awards.

Finally, the weekend concludes with an informal alumni brunch from 11 a.m. to noon at the Asian Culture Center, Stamey said.

Stamey said having a space like the Asian Culture Center on IU’s campus is important because it provides programming and a physical space for students and represents IU’s commitment to the culture centers.  Having a dedicated space for Asian students, Stamey said, is critical.

“The fact that IU is a majority Caucasian population, I think it's all the more important to have these dedicated spaces where students feel like they belong,” Stamey said.

Even though IU has ways to help students feel welcomed and included on campus, Stamey said having the culture centers is another way to ensure that students have resources and a feeling of belonging.

Katelyn Wo, a student assistant at the center, said the Asian Culture Center is a place where students feel safe. Many students, she said, come to the center to study and know that they’ll always be fed.

Additionally, Wo said the center offers many services, including counseling through Counseling and Psychological Services, which is free to students. Wo said the counselor who works with the center is Asian, which makes students feel more comfortable.

“A lot of our students and international students, Asian American students, they all feel a lot more comfortable with him which is amazing,” Wo said.

Wo said hearing from people who have come back to the center after graduation has been really interesting. She said the center’s director, Melanie Castillo-Cullather, has been at the center since its founding in 1998.

“It really was like a group of students that really came together and felt like having a community of Asian people on campus was something that mattered to them,” Wo said.

Celebrating the culture center’s 25th anniversary, Castillo-Cullather said in an email, is an opportunity to honor and work towards the ideals that formed the culture center’s foundation: caring and advocating for students.

Additionally, she said the celebration is a testament to IU’s commitment to supporting students and acknowledging the values of inclusion.

“As a founding director, I’ve seen how the IU community adapts in response to changes in IU leadership, demographics, political and economic landscape, and in the age of social media,” Castillo-Cullather said in an email. “Some of those changes have had an impact on the ACC, but the one thing that is constant for us is our mission. For 25 years, we strive to remain connected to the students and the larger community at IU.”

Outside of its anniversary celebration, the center offers a variety of programs open to all students, Stamey said, including discussion programs, Asian language classes and tutoring and peer mentoring.

To learn more about the Asian Culture Center’s 25th Anniversary celebration weekend and to register for the event, visit their website.

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