Apr 202005
Authors: Joanna Thomas

This year, the Luau will be at 6 p.m. Sunday in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom. Doors will open at 5 p.m. Tickets are on sale now. The cost is $16 for students, $18 for nonstudents, $12 for children and free for children younger than 5.

Asian/Pacific American Student Services kicked off Asian Fest events last week by celebrating the individuality of Asian- and Pacific-American students.

"Basically it's a cultural celebration of our heritage as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," said Mikiko Kumasaka, director of Asian/Pacific American Student Services.

Kumasaka said the theme of Asian Fest this year is "Reflecting our Identities," because each Asian American is a very diverse individual.

"Society tends to put us in one group, but how we see ourselves and our identities are very diverse and different," Kumasaka said.

Kumasaka said the goal of the events is to celebrate Asian heritage because it is not traditionally reflected in mainstream society.

Sarah Jakel, the assistant director for Asian/Pacific American Student Services, said the events thus far have been successful. Food fest was held Wednesday in the Sunken Lounge in the Lory Student Center and also Thursday on the Lory Student Center Plaza. The food fest offered students teriyaki beef sticks and vegetable curry and rice. Jakel said the turnout was great.

"Sales (went) well. The hula dancers in front of the Sunken Lounge (attracted) people to come," Jakel said.

Today, interdisciplinary artist Denise Uyehara will be performing "Big Head" at 7 p.m. in the student center theatre. Tickets are free and available to students and community members at the student center box office. Big Head revisits the treatment of those persecuted during World War II and considers the current-day treatment of those perceived as enemies now, including Muslim Americans, Arab Americans and South Asian Americans.

"The topic is really relevant today (as) a current topic of importance to education not only about past treatment of Japanese but also current treatment now of the Muslim and Arabic," Jakel said.

Big Head is a project Uyehara had been working on before the attacks on Sept.11, 2001, Jakel said.

"It's really a visionary for her to see before Sept. 11th, that says a lot," Jakel said.

Uyehara's work has been presented across the United States and around the world Her performances explore what it means to be an Asian American, a woman, a bisexual, and a human being, ultimately evoking what makes us in our migration toward more borderless identities.

"Nobody else like this has performed through student center theatre. It'll be the first of its kind," Jakel said.

Uyehara will be around after the performance answering questions and signing books.

Kumasaka said out of all the Asian Fest events, the Hawaiian Luau is traditionally the most popular. A/PASS has seen as many as 500 people come out for the event in the past, including many community members and alumni in the past.

"The luau is great because I'm originally from Hawaii, so I get to celebrate a part of my culture and it gives Hawaiian students a chance for them to celebrate as well," Kumasaka said.

Jakel said the luau includes live entertainment and traditional Hawaiian foods such as Kailua pig, lomi lomi salmon and the traditional food poi.

"The dancers put in a lot of hours of choreography," Jakel said.

All the food, flowers and decorations are shipped in from Hawaii from parents of Hawaiian students, so everything is really fresh, Jakel said.

"If somebody has never been to a luau before, they should go, considering one in Hawaii is usually $80," Jakel said.

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