Asian and Pacific Islander Festival: A cavalcade of culture and cuisine

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Celebrating four societies at the Asian and Pacific Islander Festival

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Experiencing Asian culture was as easy as getting lunch for students of Central Oregon Community College on May 10. The annual Asian and Pacific Islander Festival of Culture was presented by the office of Student Life in the Campus Center at COCC. The festival was a celebration of the variety of cultures that stem from Asia. Entertainment, food, and various informative tables were available to all.

Despite the numerous distinct cultures identified by this geographical region, only four were represented by their respective performances and cuisine. First, the dance group Tirta Tari performed several traditional Balinese dances. The first course of food consisted of several spicy dishes from Thai restaurant Wild Rose.

Second course consisted of a selection from Kona Mix plate as local celebrity Bill Keale played traditional songs in Hawaiian slack key guitar style.

Third up was a Portland-based Taiko drum studio, En Taiko. Art Director Kazuyo Ito had her musicians and instruments driven from Portland for three hours in six cars to perform for 30 minutes. The performers were all children from the class who practice three days a week and had to audition to perform in the show. Taiko drumming is an ancient cultural art from Japan. Traditionally only men were allowed to perform Taiko drums in the past, though now women can learn as well, according to Ito.

In addition to the Taiko drums, the third course of food was provided by Bend-O Bento.

The event closed with a Chinese puppet show from Dragon Art Studio in Portland. Puppeteers Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu performed several traditional Chinese stories, such as The Crane and the Tortoise, A Donkey’s Best Friend, and The Dancer. Both puppeteers were born in China and have won national awards and international acclaim for their arts, according to Wang.

In addition to the food provided by local restaurants and the performances, several tables offered arts and crafts from various Asian cultures, including Japanese flower crafts, Mandarin calligraphy, and model weapons and armor from Korea and Japan.

For students and members of the public, the festival offered a chance to learn about other cultures though the time-honored traditions of food and music.

Noah Hughes | The Broadside
(Contact: nmhughes@cocc.edu)

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