The Taiwanese American Society and the Asian American Students Alliance kicked off Asian Pacific-American Heritage month Friday evening with a “Night Market” on Old Campus.
Night Market, the winner of the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee’s “5K Challenge,” lit up Old Campus for three hours with dance and music performances, a hookah tent, and dozens of Asian food options. The event was styled after a Taiwanese night market and drew roughly 500 people, said Karmen Cheung ’13, head coordinator for the Asian American Cultural Center. Cheung said the event was a strong start to the month-long celebration of the culture, history and traditions of Asian-Americans, and nine students interviewed said they enjoyed the occasion.
While most parts of the country celebrate the annual Asian Pacific-American Heritage Month during May, Yale celebrates it in April before students leave for the summer. Cheung said the heritage month — which began in 1990 — aims to bring together Asian-Americans from different cultural groups, and that she thought the Night Market supported that purpose.
“[The market] was packed; there was lots of bustling activity and noise,” Cheung said. “It was how a Taiwanese night market should be.”
Cheung said in a Sunday email that the Asian American Cultural Center provided some funding to the event, in addition to the $5,000 grant from the UOFC.
UOFC Chair Allen Granzberg ’13 said the committee selected the winning event of the 5K Challenge based on its uniqueness, accessibility to all students and ability to encourage collaboration among several on-campus groups. He said the Night Market received a “substantial part of the vote” in the final election, with more than 50 percent of students choosing that option.
Granzberg said the 5K Challenge was created this year, in part to help develop a popular, potentially annual event. He said the Taiwanese American Society and Asian American Students Alliance are considering holding the event again next year, and that the UOFC would likely provide support again.
“I was very impressed [with the Night Market],” Granzberg said. “It’s hard to get so many people to attend a new event, but they managed to attract a crowd and it was really accessible.”
Cheung said the Asian American Cultural Center has a “packed” schedule of activities to celebrate the heritage month throughout April, including different dinners and cultural shows each weekend and an Asian American hip-hop group performance on April 7. Actor John Chou, known for his role as Harold in the “Harold & Kumar” films, will deliver a keynote address on April 14, she added.
Nine students interviewed at the Night Market said they enjoyed the event. Three added that they do not regularly attend events hosted by the Asian American Students Alliance, but are more likely to attend events for the heritage month based on their experiences at the Night Market.
Several students said they were drawn to event for its different types of Asian food, such as dumplings, onion cakes and Taiwanese rice. Shefali Jain ’13 said she missed dinner and came to the Market for its free food, and Jessie Garland ’15 said she attended specifically for the dumplings.
Victoria Pierre ’15, who lives on Old Campus and said she stopped by the event because it was conveniently located, also said she was impressed by the food selection.
“Lots of the food I’ve never even heard of, so it’s cool to be exposed to new things,” Pierre said.
The UOFC has sponsored more than 60 events this academic year.