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The Oracle

The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

A symphony of diversity, art and identity

MN Sunshine performs a Hmong dance routine

A dashing red carpet and flower decorations accenting every table greeted attendees on the evening of April 19 as Klas Center hosted Asian Heritage Night. With the help of the Hamline University Programming Board (HUPB), Vietnamese Student Association (VSA),Hmong Student Association (HSA) and the Asian Pacific American Coalition (APAC) were able to bring the enchanting event to fruition.
With eleven different performers, a raffle, mouth watering food and a fashion show, Asian Heritage Night was the whole package. The variety in each act was invigorating. The evening included acts such as singing, a Hmong cultural dance, spoken words and a Nepali band.
Hamline alum Di Nguyen performed spoken word poetry. Their poems discussed injustice against Asian individuals and the discrimination between Asian communities. They expressed that trauma is their primary inspiration.

Hamline alum Di Nguyen performing spoken word poetry. (Rea Clark)

“It was just a lot of trying to figure out where my place was in the world and a lot of discovering what home is,” Nguyen said. “And so that’s what a lot of my approach is about: exploring what home is. It’s exploring me. It’s trauma, but it’s really a process of processing it.”
Through poetry, Nguyen can dissect the layers of their trauma. Whether it be generational trauma, being first generation or the trauma of a family fleeing a country, it can all be processed and understood through their art.
APAC strives to create an environment where people of all ethnicities can share their culture and heritage so that individuals can learn more about and appreciate it. Sophomore and APAC’s Public Relations, Caylie Vang, has found a family and haven within the organization and events like Asian Heritage Night.
“When I was a freshman, I didn’t know anybody, but being in APAC, before I joined the board, I gained new connections with people I never thought I would have,” Vang said.
As a member of APAC, she wanted to be there for other first-year students searching for a community just like she was. Vang expressed that she loves how APAC and all those who attend their events are very welcoming and create an excellent space for all.

Senior Colby Wong performing spoken word poetry (Rea Clark)

APAC’s events allow the Asian and Pacific Islander community to express and feel proud of their heritage. Vang expressed that APAC strives to contribute to celebrating Asian heritage through its events. For instance, their Desi Night event played a significant role on campus in bringing in more representation to the South Asian community.
Asian Heritage Night attendee SJ Johnson, a sophomore, was inspired to attend the event to support her friends on the board and to learn about new cultures.
“I guess as a Black person, I resonate with kinda like all cultures in a way, you know? Because we’re mostly shunned, ignored, and we’re only given like a month to celebrate, which I find really deceitful,” Johnson said.
Whenever an event or time of year is designated to other cultures, Johnson supports them. She explained that she just wants to respect other cultures as they respect hers. Nguyen feels the same, advocating for the representation of their heritage while supporting others. They understand that liberation for different cultures is interconnected.
“It’s important that [different cultures] are in conversation and talk to them and honor it together as well as understanding that, making sure that we not only just honor each other’s cultures but making sure that we brought in that context to other cultures as well,” Nguyen said.
Regarding diversity, Johnson said it is all about acting on it and doing something about the injustices within cultures. She explained most people learn about racism and acknowledge it as wrong but do not do anything about it.

Attendants watch the multitude of
performances. (Rea Clark)

“I think diversity is actually putting forth effort and, obviously, acknowledging it too, but doing more. We all have different cultures that we’re coming from. So making sure that we honor everybody’s cultures, including those that are non-Asian, is really important,” Johnson said.
Although Asian Heritage Night unfolded beautifully, putting on an event like this has hiccups. Some challenges behind the scenes include APAC needing help to reserve their desired venue. The switch to Klas Center forced them to make do with a smaller space. Unfortunately, several performers whom Vang contacted declined the invitation or did not respond. Vang also did not hear back from sponsors from whom they asked for help..

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A drum and flute performance by the Nepali band, “Himalayan Band Baja” (Rea Clark)

“Regardless, we are still very grateful for the learning experience and for the people who reached out to us,” Vang said.
The event included a top-notch photo booth from Candid Booth and a henna artist. Asian Heritage Night is an opportunity to celebrate and inform the community about various cultures.
“My goal for APAC is for it to continue to strive and to continue to represent a community that is welcoming to all diverse groups, not just the Asian community,” Vang said.
Asian Heritage Night is APAC’s last event for this year. However, more connection and culture can be found at their last general meeting, which will be held on April 29 in collaboration with HSA.

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