Monday night, Feb. 22, Oklahoma Christian University Chinese and Japanese students set up rows of calligraphy, brightly colored clothing and steaming food that covered tables for the first annual Asian Night.
Students in attendance were encouraged to try new food and projects. Rice balls, tea, Japanese snacks, dumplings and moon cake were served. Students were taught calligraphy, origami, played with traditional Japanese toys and could observe traditional Chinese clothing.
“They are trying to introduce some of the traditional Japanese stuff like the calligraphy and Japanese food,” Japanese student Kikuchi Yuki said.
According to freshman Chinese student Nan Shi, the main goal of Asia Night was to create connections between different groups of Oklahoma Christian students. The event was an entirely student-run occasion.
“We want to translate our culture to another country,” Shi said.
According to Shi, one of the challenges for a campus-wide event such as this one is translation into English. However, Shi said international students are willing to work at breaking the language barrier.
“It’s kind of a challenge for talking to people, to native English speakers, sometimes it’s very stressful,” Shi said.
According to Chinese student Oiang Dang, while Asian Night spread Chinese and Japanese arts to American students; the sharing of culture happens both ways.
“To me, I want to know more about other cultures,” Dang said. “We just always want to share our culture with other people.”
The Chinese culture just finished celebrating the Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival, and, according to Shi, this made for a great channel of conversation between different cultures. During these festivals, food is a large component, much like it was at the inaugural Asia Night.
“They gave a lot of very strange tasting food over there and had a lot of sweets and candies; not a lot of meat,” sophomore Catherine Zawicki said.
For students like freshmen Christian Bauer, who is interested in study abroad, the event was an opportunity to not only connect with students from the countries they wish to visit, but begin to experience culture first hand before actually traveling.
“Since I’m going to be on Asian studies … I want to try Asian food so I know what to expect,” freshman Christian Bauer said.