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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

AASA co-hosts 36th annual Lunar New Year Festival

This year’s showcase, titled “Luminary,” centered on a theme of mentorship, role models and inclusion.
Lunar New Year Festival Open Style performers, as photographed on Feb. 18, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Wonjun Seok)

The Asian American Student Association hosted its 36th-annual Lunar New Year Festival on Feb. 18. This year’s theme centered on the Year of the Rabbit, and was titled Luminary to reflect the importance of role models in the Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander community. 

LNYF was co-hosted by South Asian Cultural Exchange, African Student Union, Vanderbilt Undergraduate Chinese Association, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Vanderbilt Chapter, Philippine Intercultural Student Organization, Vietnamese Student Association, Korean Undergraduate Student Association, Caribbean Students Association and the Vanderbilt Asian Studies department. According to AASA president and senior Tabitha Lee, the showcase featured over 350 student performers across 20 acts.

"Luminary" graphic depicting a rabbit on Earth looking up to the moon. (Graphic courtesy of Vanderbilt AASA)
“Luminary” graphic depicting a rabbit on Earth looking up to the moon. (Graphic courtesy of Vanderbilt AASA)

Senior and dancer Lily Xie has been part of LNYF since her freshman year and explained that the festival has been a space to celebrate shared identity, allowing herself to feel comfortable with her identity in the Asian American community.

“I can’t thank LNYF enough for what it has given me. It’s given me the community, friends, and everything,” Xie said. “I think this is an amazing space where we all can celebrate together our shared identity and have that safe space, which is so important.”

LNYF co-vice president Mikaya Kim said the framing for this year’s showcase was the result of extensive brainstorming and consideration of the year of the rabbit.

“There was a persistent image in our heads of a rabbit on Earth looking up to the rabbit on the moon, and we knew, almost immediately, that we would be framing our LNYF season around a celebration of mentorship and role models,” said Kim in an email to the Hustler. “We found it incredibly important to express how beneficial it is to have someone who looks like you as a role model or mentor.”

The showcase began with an indigenous land acknowledgment and a moment of silence for recent instances of gun violence in the Asian American community. Kim added that the organizations planned the showcase to be more inclusive by including performances from non-East Asian countries. 

“We really wanted to take a step in the direction of better inclusivity when planning this year’s showcase,” Kim said in an email to the Hustler. “Historically, AASA has had the tendency to over-represent East Asian culture and people on campus, and we wanted to use our platform to make sure other Asian/Asian American groups had the opportunity to be seen.”

The various performances highlighted distinct characteristics of each respective culture. Some performers wore traditional outfits or carried flags of the respective country. First-year Chloe Peng said that her own cultural and dancing background allowed her to better appreciate the performances. 

“As a Chinese American, it was extremely rewarding to see my culture and other Asian cultures being commemorated in such a cool way,” Peng said. “I was especially excited for the open style performance. It was a combination between hiphop, contemporary movements, and Asian artists and was such a mesmerizing experience.”

The showcase featured a skit that also conveyed the theme of mentorship. The performance was interspersed within acts and followed the journey of two Vanderbilt first-years, from move-in day to when they become Resident Advisers themselves as they learn from upperclassmen peers and mentors. 

First-year Christina Lee said she appreciated the showcase’s cultural elements and was impressed by the effort students put into their performances. 

“I really appreciate how multiple Asian cultures were incorporated into LNYF and how lively the performances were,” Lee said. “Each performance was very unique and special, which made it very enjoyable to watch! The skits in between the shows were also so funny and relatable.”

The showcase ended with the Senior Video and Senior Dance, highlighting and celebrating the seniors’ accomplishments and journeys. Kim explained how this was her favorite part of this year’s showcase and reflected on mentorship opportunities within AASA. 

“I have met many older AASA members over the course of my college career that have guided me and helped me truly discover who I am and want to be at my core, and I know that holds true for many students in AASA,” said Kim. “We wanted to encourage those in the Asian and Asian American communities to look up to their peers and to let them know that the guidance they provide to others in the community is deeply meaningful as well.”

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About the Contributor
Chloe Kim
Chloe Kim, Staff Writer and Photographer
Chloe Kim (‘26) is majoring in Psychology with a minor in computer science and Spanish in the College of Arts and Science. She is on the club tennis team and likes to write poetry and short stories in her free time. In addition to writing, Chloe loves to draw and take photographs for The Hustler! She can be reached at [email protected].
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