The fifth-annual Asian Pacific Heritage Week consumed Locust Walk and the College Green last week, exposing the University to the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of Asian culture. "It would seem as though multicultural display and selling ethnic food on Locust Walk would not have very much impact on how people perceive Asian Americans," APA Heritage Week Co-Chairperson Heather Heo said. "But, hopefully, the week helped make the community at large more aware of what Asian Americans are all about." The event was designed to reduce campus ignorance of Asian-American culture, the College junior said. The week of cultural showcases came together with the annual "Extravaganza" bazaar Friday on College Green. The event coincided with the Philadelphia Youth Community Service project, which brought 250 children from four schools across the greater Philadelphia area, as well as from the West Philadelphia Girls Club. Children ranging from 9 to 13 years of age strolled through campus, learning how to make origami and egg rolls. The children, mostly dressed in traditional Asian garb, trick-or-treated along Locust Walk and listened to stories of Asian ethnic mythic tales on the Green. "More than anything, these kids are just going to see this event as a field trip, and they're all going to have fun," said College junior Bonnie Chong, public relations chairperson for APA Heritage Week. "But, hopefully, as they grow older, they'll remember what happened, which can add to their own understanding of their heritage." During the Extravaganza, while Asian-American groups performed on the Green -- including Hindi a cappella group Penn Masala and the Korean Student Association's traditional fan dance group -- the National Marrow Donor Program held a blood drive in Houston Hall. Lambda Phi Epsilon sponsored the blood drive as a part of its national community service project because of a lack of marrow donors of Asian-descent. Only 5 percent of the more than two million volunteers in the NMDA registry are Asian or Asian-Pacific Islanders. Seventy-eight people donated blood during the two-day drive, an increase of 21 donors from last year, according to College senior Daniel Lai, Lambda Phi Epsilon's community service chairperson. Following the Extravaganza, about 280 people packed into Houston Hall's Bodek Lounge for the annual fashion show. Thirty-five student models showcased traditional Asian wear and fashion lines by Asian-American designers. Engineering junior Bianca Wong, who coordinated the event, said the fashion line produced by Asian-American designers reflected a "blend in culture and trend and harmony between East and West." The fashion show featured designs by 15 Asian-American designers and six different cultural showcases, including traditional Vietnamese, Tibetan and Chinese clothing. The APA Heritage Week concluded Saturday with "Iridescence," a charity gala and awards ceremony that raised approximately $2,000 for the AIDS Services in Asian Community organization. ASIAC provides assistance to Asians in the greater Philadelphia area with the AIDS virus, according to Hye Heo, co-chairperson for the week. "We decided to donate this year's proceeds to ASIAC because AIDS is an issue frequently ignored in the Asian-American community," said Hye Heo, a College and Engineering senior. "By donating to ASIAC, we're acknowledging the problem and the need for awareness, showing that the Asian-American community at Penn is concerned." Each Asian-American organization auctioned off gift certificates donated by Philadelphia businesses. Members also offered their own services, ranging from cooking lessons to Broadway tickets and wine-tasting trips. Asian Pacific Student Coalition President Eric Lee said the APA Heritage Week accentuates Asian Americans' presence on campus. "This week shows that the Asian-American group is not only politically oriented but also possesses tremendous value, culturally and communally," Lee said.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.