Americans aren‘t the only ones who celebrate Thanksgiving – or something close to it.
The Korean American Law School Association, KALSA, celebrated Chuseok, a three-day harvest holiday, on Friday in the Main Reading Room of the UC Davis School of Law. Much like an American Thanksgiving, students gathered for plenty of food, drink and mingling, only with a traditional Korean twist.
KALSA is the first Korean association at UCD and celebrated Chuseok as their first big event of the year.
“This was our first year so we took this holiday as our debut to school to announce our presence,” said Eddy Park, a first-year law student.
As members and other attendees socialized, they enjoyed traditional food like songqyeon (sweet rice and honey cakes) and shikhae (rice drinks).
“It’s basically like Korean Thanksgiving,” said Laura Kim. “We celebrate the harvest season by farming vegetables, rice, wheat and then take that food and have a festival with family, friends and neighbors. We thank the earth for such a good turnout of crops.“
Chuseok is traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar.
Aside from the food, KALSA presented other forms of Korean culture.
“One table displayed traditional items of culture such as men‘s clothing and small trinkets, including a gold and jade vanity mirror and hair pins,“ said Candace Lee, KALSA founder. “We also showcased traditional pieces for a game called yutnori, a popular board game for the festivities.“
Lee, who donned a traditional piece of Korean clothing known as a Hanbok, also helped organize games such as jaegi, a game similar to the American hacky-sack.
To carry out this Chuseok event, KALSA worked hard to create a genuinely traditional atmosphere.
“For two weeks, KALSA worked on the logistics of the event – from choosing the particular rice cakes among specialty stores in Sacramento, to collecting the cultural items, including traditional wear and trinkets, to promoting the event schoolwide,” Lee said.
KALSA, the first Korean association in Davis, combined the aspects of law school and Korean culture in order to suit a prevailing community in Davis.
“There are a lot of Korean Americans in King Hall,” said Haeeun Choi, a law student. “The organization allows students to share ideas about the culture and its politics.“
KALSA uses its cultural Korean identity along with its members‘ background in law to shed light on Korean legal issues to the Davis community. One issue KALSA plans to focus on is North Korean politics.
“Our next event will feature a private screening of Seoul Train, a documentary on the trek of North Koreans who brave the escape to freedom.” Lee said. “Through events and information seminars, KALSA hopes to highlight areas in human rights, immigration and other areas of law that significantly impact the Asian community.“
Apart from dealing with legal issues, students who have been a part of KALSA have had the opportunity to experience cultural growth in the Korean culture.
“I am very Americanized and didn’t have any Korean friends before this,” Kim said. “Being part of this helps me get in touch with that side I kind of ignored.“
This sense of culture is something Kim believes many UC Davis students could discover though KALSA.
“When I first came here I noticed there were more Koreans than I thought, especially international students,” Kim said. “With the rising population of Koreans and what they have to offer, it is important to understand both sides [Korean culture and American culture] while building future relationships.“
Kim said that KALSA will continue to expand their community at Davis and bring more culture to an already diverse university.
“It’s time to get out there and show them our cultures!” she said.
INDU SUDHAKAR can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.