Weeklong event celebrates Asian Pacific Islander community, culture
With the diversity that embeds itself into the UC Davis community, specific groups on campus have found ways to celebrate the breadth and depth of such cultural variety. The Asian Pacific Islander Community, a part of the Cross Cultural Center (CCC), will be hosting an Asian Pacific Islander Culture Week from May 1 to 5 at the International Center, with an additional Night Market on May 5.
“The Culture Weeks have been going on for 20 years,” said Kriti Garg, a program coordinator at the CCC. “There will be professors speaking on an academic angle, a lot of workshop held by students and a lot of vendors who are students or people from the community. We will have a large variety of [Asian Pacific] culture, politics, community, food, dance and music throughout the week.”
However, the concept of a concluding Night Market is new for the Asian Pacific Culture Week.
“The Night Market is the culminating event of the week, it is like the grand finale,” Garg said. “We have had other Friday night events like a talent performance, but we decided to be a little more creative and come up with something new. This year we are having the Night Market outside the International Center, which will also have a comedy show inside the International Center.”
There will also be performances from a UC Davis Hawaiian and Polynesian dance group as well as a comedy performance during the Night Market by Jenny Yang and D’Lo from Disoriented Comedy.
“Expect the same [political charge] as Hasan Minhaj from the comedy show,” Garg said.
Volunteers have been recruited for help in preparing for the event.
“I assist the coordinators with anything they need help with, which is mostly a lot of logistical work and general event planning,” said Stephanie Lu, a first-year economics and statistics double major and a volunteer at the CCC. “Mandy [Lew] and Kathy [Vu], the co-coordinators for the event, are really on top of things, so it’s been great getting to observe people who are good at event planning. The application process to become a volunteer intern is super straightforward, you just turn in an application that can be found on the CCC website.”
The Asian Pacific Islander Community is not the only cultural community to hold an event like this; all of the culture weeks share the same purpose of establishing community.
“The International Center has other week long series of programs for other communities,” Garg said. “These are events that have been going on historically with other people of color at UC Davis for decades. I think, broadly speaking, we are all celebrating and uplifting communities and want to share each with each other within our community, but to also share with the larger UC Davis community.”
However, the event has emerged as more than simply a celebration of an established community, but also a way of helping students discover the complexity of their own ethnic identity.
“One of the things I’m excited about this year is our Pacific Islander Symposium,” Garg said. “Some students who identify with the community really wanted to make a space to talk about their culture and community, and to just create a space for people to come together — especially when your community is so small on campus this can be very powerful. We want everyone to explore what their cultural and ethnic background means to them. Not everyone is looking for that or is going to find that but it can help you broaden your community.”
For Zhenxinyi Qiu, a fourth-year computer science major and event volunteer, this event is powerful in its celebration of community and diversity.
“I think this event is going to be powerful in its ability to establish self-love and love for others, and will be a great way to make friends,” Qui said.
This diversity, however, extends itself not only to the Asian Pacific Islander community, but how this community can interact with others as well.
“Asian Pacific Culture Week’s aim is to spotlight the entire Asian Pacific Islander community, rather than just those [Asian Pacific Islander (API)] groups the Davis community is most aware of,” Lu said. “Additionally, Asian Pacific Culture Week will host multiple workshops about Asian Pacific Islander-specific issues, but events like anti-Blackness in the Asian Pacific Islander community can help others more deeply understand problems they probably didn’t even think about and how they connected before going to Asian Pacific Culture Week.”
Moreover, the goal of the Culture Week is to spread awareness of the complexity within the API group, and illustrate the diversity of the community.
“Some of the workshops are also on topic like intersexual identity or mental health,” Garg said. “We are approaching our event with a specific ethnic community, but understanding that we are going to have other events that focus on our Asian Pacific Islander queer community and so on. It is meant to encompass all those stories and all those narratives. When we do workshops about specific topics, they are often led by people who identify as Asian Pacific Islander. The idea is to recognize that our experiences are all different from each other, even within the community — it is broad in itself. It is important to recognize that there is so much diversity in being Asian Pacific Islander. It is challenging to talk as one community, but make a space for a multiplicity of identities and explore the various ways you can interact with them. It is tricky but it is beautiful; we are not seeking to create one Asian Pacific Islander community.”
A full list of events can be found on the Cross Cultural Center’s website.
Written by: Caroline Rutten —firstname.lastname@example.org