With balloons, drumming, singing and dancing, Penn's Pan-Asian American Community House officially opened its doors this weekend.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members gathered in the ARCH -- which houses the new student resource center -- to celebrate PAACH's grand opening on Saturday. The event included student performances, speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, as well as an array of Asian foods.

"That was quite a blast, wasn't it?" said Rosane Rocher, the director of the Asian-American Studies Program. "It was so long in coming. It's great that it's finally opening."

PAACH was officially approved by the University last February after a decade-long struggle to obtain such a resource. After a major push last fall, Penn gave its support to the project.

A Korean cultural troupe, Sori-Mori, began the evening by performing P'ungmul, a traditional Korean folk art that featured drumming. The troupe played on Locust Walk and then in the lobby of ARCH as the crowd arrived and moved to the second-floor auditorium.

After watching a performance by PENNaach, Penn's South Asian dance troupe, the audience listened to several speakers, including Rocher, University President Judith Rodin and PAACH Director Karen Su.

The evening's featured speaker was Penn alumna Elaine Kim, a well-known political activist, feminist and Asian-American scholar.

In her address, Kim discussed the difference between the campus she knew as a student and the one she found this Homecoming on her first return to the University.

"This is my first time back to Penn since 1963," she said. "I am so excited that my first time back is at PAACH."

When Kim attended Penn, the lack of diversity on campus was pronounced. As far as Kim knows, she was the only Asian-American woman in her class, which affected her sense of identity.

"I avoided other colored people like the plague," she said, explaining that "my aim in life at that time was to be thought of as an honorary white person."

Because of experiences like these, Kim said she has developed a deep appreciation for the importance of diversity.

"For me, there can be no excellence if there is no diversity," she said.

And she pointed out that PAACH can help increase collaboration between minority and majority groups and among different ethnic and racial groups.

"We must take up the cause of not segregating ourselves," she said.

After the speeches, the crowd moved downstairs for dinner and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Joseph Sun -- who directs Academic Affairs in the Engineering School and has been actively involved in the effort to create PAACH -- participated in the ceremony and briefly explained that all the years of work put into establishing the center made its opening especially significant.

"This is really a truly historical moment... in the history of the University," he said. "It is so important to know that on campus there is a place that is supportive of the Asian-American community."

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