The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

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.

‘Bonding over food and culture’: AASA holds fourth annual Night Market on Commons Lawn

Fourteen cultural organizations celebrated Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month.
Lana English
Students gather at AASA Night Market on Commons South Patio Lawn, as photographed on Oct. 29, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Lana English)

Vanderbilt’s Asian American Student Association held their fourth annual Night Market on the South Patio of Commons Lawn. Featuring 14 different cultural organizations, the event concludes the AASA’s celebrations of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month.

Attendees received cards to visit different booths to earn markson the cards. The marks were redeemable for various Asian snacks, including Shin instant noodles, Choco Pies, Sando Biscuits and Hi-Chew candies.

Many of the booths featured games originating from Asian countries. The Korean Undergraduate Student Association gave attendees the opportunity to play ddakji, a game in which players throw origami tiles in attempts to flip their opponent’s tiles. Additionally, the Vanderbilt Nepali Students Association played gatti, where participants toss a stone in the air and try to pick up another stone while catching the original one.

“What we have here is reminiscent of an actual Taiwanese night market game. I think that it’s a good way to spread our culture in a way that’s engaging and fun,” junior Ryan Wu, Taiwanese American Student Association social chair, said.

Other interactive events included lantern-making from the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Chinese Association, mehndi body art from the South Asian Cultural Exchange and trivia and Arabic writing from the Middle Eastern North African Student Association. MENA recently rebranded from the Middle Eastern Student Association in alignment with their goals of inclusivity, according to an Oct. 27 Instagram post.

“Last year we did the Arabic writing and saw a lot of great turnout. A lot of people loved it and that’s why we wanted to keep that,” MENA treasurer Mona Alyahya, a sophomore, said. “We also wanted to have something else — the trivia — mainly because we want people to have some kind of fun competition.” 

Students said they enjoyed the exposure to different cultures at the Night Market. 

“It’s a different change of pace from what’s usually out there at Commons and a lot of students coming together to the marketplace and bonding over food and different cultures,” first-year Ishan Mahajan said. I have a lot of international friends here, and I’ve learned a lot about what their lives were like back home.” 

Vietnamese Student Association publicity chair Tammy Le, a sophomore, spoke on the event’s cultural representation. 

“I really appreciate how AASA hosts APIDAM and allows so many different Asian nations to be represented,” Le said.

Sophomore and KUSA member Jimmy Baek echoed Le’s sentiments.

“There’s a really strong and big Asian community at Vanderbilt. You can see the true presence of it here all at once. It’s good to see all of us out here supporting each other and enjoying Asian culture,” Baek said.

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About the Contributors
Benjy Yang
Benjy Yang, Staff Writer
Benjy Yang ('25) is from Irmo, S.C., and studies economics, business and political science in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find him watching Premier League soccer, working out, reading or adding to his sneaker collection. You can reach him at [email protected].
Lana English
Lana English, Staff Photographer
Lana English (‘27) is from St. Louis and is majoring in neuroscience in the College of Arts and Science. Outside of The Hustler, you can find her drinking coffee, doing New York Times word games or getting nostalgic looking at old pictures. You can reach her at [email protected].
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