A/PASS celebrates culture

Apr 242003
Authors: Adrienne Hoenig

Students and faculty had an opportunity to learn about diversity through humor and music Thursday night.

A Slice of Rice, Frijoles and Greens, sponsored by Asian/Pacific American Student Services, featured insights into the Asian American, Latino, African American and Deaf American experience.

“It’s important because it provides perspectives that we don’t hear or see typically,” said Mikiko Kumasaka, assistant director for A/PASS. She hoped the show’s easy-going atmosphere helped people feel more at ease with their differences.

“It’s a really good way of educating people,” Kumasaka said. “Then you’re not kind of hammering it in them.”

Great Leap, a non-profit organization that uses performing arts to cross cultural borders, presented the program. Dan Kwong, Margaret Medina, Arlene Malinowski and Chic Street Man acted out stories from their past to illustrate the issues concerning cultural barriers.

Medina shared a story from elementary school when she was called a “beaner” and a “spic.” She told the audience the importance of standing up for themselves and taking pride in where they were from.

“Stay close to your roots,” Medina said. “You must always believe in yourself.”

Malinowski told about growing up in a home with two deaf parents and the now humorous details of their misunderstandings. She stressed the importance of providing education to blind, deaf and mute individuals.

“This one simple act resulted in the birth of a language, the birth of a new culture, the birth of a community,” Malinowski said. “It makes all the difference in the world.”

Kwong acted out his struggles with a barely running station wagon in Los Angeles. He then talked about his grandfather’s imprisonment after Pearl Harbor, linking this to the reason his family could not afford a nicer car.

“Papa lost his business, trucks and all, for the crime of looking like the enemy,” Kwong said.

Chic Street Man sang and played guitar, promoting unity and understanding amongst races.

“All people are beautiful,” he said. “Why do we start making people ugly?”

Cristina Matsushima, junior speech communications student and member of A/PASS came to A Slice of Rice, Frijoles and Greens because of the many different cultural backgrounds that were represented.

“It was more diverse than some of the other Asian Fest events,” Matsushima said. “There are lots of different people here which is good.”

Adam Hunzeker, senior computer information systems major, also appreciated the diversity of the program.

“I just think it really opens up your eyes,” he said. “They were really good.”

That’s what Great Leap hopes to keep on doing.

“Everybody has a story that will stop your heart,” Malinowski said. “We are not only different, but we are all the same and that is the beauty.”

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