Southeast Asia Club holds annual cultural festival


NIU business professor Ozlem Ozkanli samples Thai food Saturday at the Southeast Asian Festival in rm. 100 of Anderson Hall.

By Mariah Stubbs-Johnson

Food, fashion, crafts and performances were among the festivities at this year’s Southeast Asia Club festival on Saturday.

The Southeast Asia club decided to do things differently this year by hosting an annual festival instead of its typical performances, said culture night coordinator Glynnis White. The festival started at 4 p.m. and was held in Anderson Hall gymnasium.

“In the past, we’ve had people perform,” White said. ”So this year we decided to do more interaction besides a show.”

During the festival, passports were given out for a trip around the eight countries that were represented. Once a participant had a chance to visit a country their passport was stamped.

Each country had activities, food, games and different artifacts from the country itself.

“We use to have it late at night,” said Nicole Loring, president of the Burma Interest Group. “We wanted it to be more family-friendly oriented. It’s a great event, and I’m glad people are here.”

Vietnam had a game with dice and poker chips, and participants could look at the Vietnamese alphabet so they could write their name in Vietnamese.

“I’m doing my masters on ethno-musicology,” said SarahEmily Lekbecg, Vietnamese music graduate student. “I am studying Vietnamese music so I decided to do my board on Vietnam.”

China had craft supplies available to make Chinese lanterns in various colors at the festival. Chinese Club President Savannah Lira said the club was founded in December. She attended the event to get her own organization’s name out.

”[I am] minoring in Chinese, and the Southeast Asia Club wanted us to help promote the festival,” Lira said. “All of these languages are based off Chinese [dialect], and we are just happy to be a part of it.”

As the room started to fill, attendees saw different crafts made from various Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand.

“I went to Thailand in high school,” said Elise Waite, outreach coordinator of the Southeast Asia Club. ”I just wanted to keep learning so I decided to take Thai at NIU.”

White said a lot of the funding for the event comes from donations.

“We are a [Student Association]-recognized club,” White said. “We used some of our budget for food, crafts, renting and chairs. But a lot of it is donating the time.”

White said planning for the event started in October.

White said the Southeast Asia club was founded in the 1970’s and has provided annual cultural nights featuring performances that showcase the culture of Southeast Asian countries.

“This year was our fifth year anniversary,” said Matt Ropp, vice president of the Southeast Asia Club. “A lot of students from Southeast Asia may feel like an outcast. So this [festival] allows them to demonstrate to others and educate students who might have an interest in Southeast Asia.”