AASA holds third annual Night Market

The Night Market offered a deeper look into Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi and American culture through its showcase of ethnic traditions and tasty snacks.


Ophelia Lu

Students at the APIDAM night market on Commons Lawn, as photographed on Oct. 1, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Ophelia Lu)

Sarah Khobaib, Staff Writer

Vanderbilt’s Asian American Student Association (AASA) hosted its third-annual Night Market on Oct. 1 to celebrate the start of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American month (APIDA). Lined up along Commons Lawn were 20 different student organization booths, representing a variety of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. Students were given cards that they could get stamped at each respective booth, and eight stamps earned them prizes such as Asian snacks. 

Fiona Wu, a senior and AASA’s APIDA Month Co-Vice President, shared that the scale of this year’s event was larger than in previous years.

“Night Market is the first event for AASA’s APIDA Month, which is celebrated in October at Vanderbilt. This year we have 20 organizations present, compared to 10 last year, encompassing our increasingly diverse community,” Wu said.

Screenshot of organizations featured at AASA Night Market, as captured on Oct. 1, 2022
Screenshot of organizations featured at AASA Night Market, as captured on Oct. 1, 2022. (Hustler Staff/Sarah Khobaib)

The South Asian Cultural Exchange (SACE) booth featured mehndi, a temporary skin decoration from India usually drawn on hands, and carrom, a popular tabletop game of Indian origin. Usually enjoyed at social gatherings, carrom is a commonly played family game in which small disks of wood are aimed and flicked at one of four holes at the corners of a board. 

Namrah Ajmal, a senior and president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), said she enjoyed the cultural activities present at the different booths. 

“It was a fun opportunity to see what hobbies, arts, and games are found throughout Asia,” Ajmal said.

Senior Keke Huang said that she was inspired to travel after visiting the different booths at the event.

“Being around these people and attending this event makes me want to travel to areas such as the Middle East and Southeast Asia, even though I’m on campus right now,” Huang said.

The Middle Eastern Students Association (MESA) provided templates of Arabic phrases that students could practice writing and played Arab remixes of popular songs such as “Sweater Weather” by the Neighborhood, adding to the ambiance. 

First-year Sally Nwider said the event eased her worries about being disconnected from her culture upon coming to Vanderbilt. 

“When I finally came here, I realized how much Vanderbilt has to offer to keep me interconnected with my culture,” Nwider said. “I’m honestly so grateful to have found a family here.”