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ISSUE 118 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 4/8/2005

Weeks educate on Asia

By Tiffany Ayres
News Editor

Friday, April 8, 2005

The St. Olaf Asian Cultures Association (ACA) began its annual month long Asia Weeks celebration with three kick-off events earlier this week. Students participated in sumo wrestling in Buntrock Commons Tuesday as well as attended both an Asia Weeks chapel talk and a fashion show and theme meal in Stav Hall Wednesday. The ACA, Hmong Awareness Group (HAG), Diversity Celebrations Committee (DCC) and the Mulitcultural Awareness and Community Outreach (MACO) office will continue sponsoring and planning events throughout April.

ACA Co-Chair Naoya Nishino ’05 explained that because Asia includes a broad range of distinct cultures, it is difficult to restrict the events to one week. Also, the ACA wants as many people as possible to be able to participate. "It seems like week-long events sometimes go by without people noticing," Nishino said.

The ACA set up tables in the lower level of Buntrock Commons where they sold "Got Rice?" T-shirts, suited up fellow students in sumo gear, played Asian pop music and promoted the month’s other upcoming events, including Wednesday’s chapel talk by Aiko Guevera ’05.

Guevera began her chapel talk by sharing that she had been studying abroad in Korea all last year and that, as a Japanese citizen, she was apprehensive at first. She explained that Korea had suffered a “cultural genocide” when it was a Japanese colony. The Korean people were forced to take Japanese names and to worship at Japanese shrines. She also said that Japan has been reluctant to apologize for its actions.

Despite her fears, she had "a wonderful experience,” particularly through the church she joined, as well as its members while she was there.

"They sang a blessing song and adopted me as their family on the first day," Guevera said.

Guevera became emotional as she described her experience in Korea and the love she felt after initially being scared. "I felt blessed to be so protected by the people," she said.

Other events planned for the Asia Weeks celebration include a dance in the Pause on Saturday, the Rice Bowl, an Asia trivia quiz bowl, a cultural extravaganza, a Buddhist Monk water blessing ceremony in Ytterboe Lounge, sushi making, various movies and discussion opportunities and the closing ceremony on April 24.

The Rice Bowl will feature at least three to four teams of students – and possibly faculty members – in Viking Theater on Monday.

The Cultural extravaganza planned for April 14, in the Buntrock Commons Crossroads, will be a cultural showcase featuring information booths and tables for vendors of Asian goods. The vendors will donate part of their proceeds to charity groups including tsunami relief funds.

Nishino said that participation in previous years, especially last year, has been at a decent level and that the closing banquet and the water blessing usually draw the biggest attendance.

"Even though it’s a Lutheran college, people are open to the experience," Nishino said.

Nishino also emphasized the participation of the new Asian studies honor house in this year’s celebration as a site for some of the events.

The ACA, established in the early 1990s as the Asian Awareness Association, is a student organization that addresses concerns of the community and discusses Asian and Asian-American issues and encourages the celebration of the diverse Asian heritages to raise cultural awareness.

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