AASA hosts events for APIDA month at Vanderbilt

October marks the celebration of Asian heritage through food, crafts and conversation.

APIDAM lantern exhibit at Rand Hall, photographed Oct. 20. (Hustler Staff/Ekta Anand)

Ekta Anand

APIDAM lantern exhibit at Rand Hall, photographed Oct. 20. (Hustler Staff/Ekta Anand)

Ekta Anand, Staff Writer

Beginning with their Night Market and continuing with their latest event, a seminar titled “Speaking to be Seen,” Vanderbilt’s Asian American Student Association (AASA) has hosted campus-wide programming in October to honor Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Month (APIDAM). 

Typically celebrated in May, APIDAM is celebrated in October at Vanderbilt due to summer break. Students have been able to participate in various activities including food, crafts, writing and seminars that explore Asian culture and its relevance today. 

“As we attempt to solidify our identities, I think it is important to have this formative guide, navigating a major part of who we are as Asians/Asian Americans,” sophomore Mikayla Kim, member of AASA’s APIDAM team, said  in an email to The Hustler. 

“I think it has been exhilarating,” Kev Jung, a senior who attended the AASA Night Market, said. “Just to see all of Vandy’s community, not just the first-years but everyone, come and celebrate Asian culture, I just have to enjoy that.”

APIDAM also featured an event titled Brought to Light, a tribute to Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) experiences of prejudice, animosity or injustice. Students were given the opportunity to write anonymous stories about their experiences as  members of the AAPI community, which are now exhibited in Rand Dining Hall alongside lanterns, representing light and festival in Asian culture. 

“We wanted to do a statement of peace, to pay condolence to all members in our community that were affected by the hate crimes last year,” first-year Fiona Wu, AASA coordinator for APIDAM, said. “We came across the Strangers Project from New York, and that became our inspiration.”

The Strangers Project is an organization that collects handwritten stories from a multitude of people across a wide range of subjects. This work is displayed at various exhibits, creating spaces for people to read others’ stories and weave a common narrative of personal experiences. Based in New York, the creator Brandon Doman hand-collects stories from people throughout the country.

The Brought to Light exhibit will  be present at Rand for the rest of the month, open for all students and staff to read and enjoy. 

AASA’s latest  “Speaking to be Seen” event on Oct. 10 featured a virtual seminar with “Asian Boss Girl,” a podcast on the presence of Asian American women in media outlets. The speakers were the members of the podcast: Melody Cheng, Helen Wu and Janet Wang

I believe it was a success,” Kim said. “We organized the event in hopes of opening up discussions on how our community can step out and proclaim our visibility in the world, and we had quite a substantial turnout.”

APIDAM will finish off with the Taste of Asia, a celebration of Asian culture with food from eight different Asian countries. This event will be held on Oct. 31 at 6 p.m. CDT in the Student Life Center Ballroom. 

“We cater from over 10 restaurants across Nashville, and we really try to bring them together for the community here at Vanderbilt,” senior Jack Mok, president of AASA, said. “Taste of Asia is one of our centerpiece events, and it’s definitely something you don’t want to miss.”