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Sunday, April 21, 2024

UC Davis celebrates Asian Pacific Culture Week

From April 2 to April 11, UC Davis celebrated Asian Pacific Culture Week, a week when students can enjoy and learn more about Asian Pacific Islander culture through a series of events including film screenings, culture nights and workshops about identity. The Cross Cultural Center, which annually puts on this week, chose “We Will Be Seen, We Will Be Heard” as the theme for the week as a way to encourage the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community to use its voice to gain visibility in the Davis community.

Created in 1973, Asian Pacific Culture Week has grown over the years to the point where the event now expands to over a week.

“It’s supposed to be a one-week long event, but we got such overwhelming interest from the community that we turned it into a two-week event,” said Linda Nguyen, Asian Pacific Culture Week coordinator. “That really shows how it evolved and how invested the communities are in the week.”

The week’s importance is based on the need for UC Davis students to have an opportunity to showcase and take pride in their API culture.

“I think there’s this notion that there’s a lot of Asian people and there’s no need for a program like this,” said Fong Tran, the Cross Cultural Center’s program coordinator. “But I think this week is important in showing different culture and diversity and what the experiences are between specific ethnic communities as well as some of the key differences.”

Events during the week included a workshop titled “Domestic Violence in API Household,” a film screening of the documentary “Linsanity” and Korean Culture Night.

Some events were more fun, and others more serious, but all focused on a celebration of API culture.

“Asian Pacific Culture Week is a time to celebrate what being [API] is,” said Aditi Shakkarwar, another Asian Pacific Culture Week coordinator. “It’s a week to celebrate your identity and learn more about your history. On one hand, the events are fun to go to, but it’s also a form of activism and social justice. It’s a way of making sure our voices are heard on campus.”

Asian Pacific Culture Week also gives student groups the opportunity to collaborate when planning events.

“There are annual partnerships for events,” Tran said. “Some events are even collaborative. It’s nice to see what student groups put together.”

Collaborative events included a workshop titled “Effectively Managing Stress,” put on by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Cross Cultural Center, and a dialogue of different religious faiths titled “Beliefs, Faith and Tea,” put on by the Sikh Cultural Association, Middle East/South Asia Studies Program and Muslim Student Association.

Asian Pacific Culture Week culminated with its annual Asian Pacific Culture Night in Freeborn Hall on April 11.

“Asian Pacific Culture Night is the signature event,” Tran said. “That’s where we really see the scale of the [API] community come together.”

According to Shakkarwar, the night was an opportunity for API students to express their culture.

“Asian Pacific Culture Night is about celebrating [API]  talent and showcasing that we are a talented group of people and there is a space for us to perform, and that space is to perform traditional or more modern acts,” Shakkarwar said. “The night reflects the changing face of [API] culture so that we are representing who Asian Pacific Islander Americans are today. We can be connected to our roots and have traditional performances and celebrate our American culture as well.”

This year, the night featured YouTube singer Jenny Suk and comedian Jenny Yang. Students were involved in the night as well, performing in dance groups, spoken word and rap performances.

“The majority of the students came to support their friends that are performing,” Tran said. “Others came to see the headliners Jenny Suk and Jenny Yang. There are people who know about our work at the Cross Cultural Center that came to support diversity.”

 ALYSSA VANDENBERG can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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