From Sky Lanterns to Taiwanese Food – Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Events Offer Something for Everyone

04/23/14

Imagine sampling beef noodles while watching a classic Taiwanese film. Or dousing your friends with colored powders to celebrate the arrival of spring. How about making a traditional Chinese sky lantern and watching it float up into the atmosphere?

All of these things will be possible during The University of Scranton’s Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month celebration. A series of events and exhibits – all free and open to the public – will take place at various spots on campus from Saturday, April 26 through the end of May.

This is the second year the University has observed Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, said Ann Pang-White, Ph.D., Director of the Asian Studies program and professor of philosophy. It is part of a national celebration that began in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution designating the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The event was expanded to the entire month of May in 1992.

“The participation in this national celebration of the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month is our tribute to the contributions that generations of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans have made to this country,” Dr. White said. “This commemorative month also provides the local community and the campus community a great opportunity to explore and to learn more about the diverse traditions of the Asian continent through a series of well-planned cultural programs.”

The celebration kicks off on Saturday, April 26, with Holi: The Indian Festival of Color at the Dionne Campus Green at 4 p.m.

Holi is a Hindu spring festival that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Originating as a religious celebration in India, it spread to Nepal, Sri Lanka and other countries with Indian populations, said Abhijit Roy, Ph.D., professor of marketing management and marketing. He will offer remarks at the festival.

What makes Holi so much fun is that people throw dry, washable colored powders at each other while running around outdoors. Indian music and cuisine add to the merriment. The powders come in all the colors of the rainbow and are sold in Indian shops, even in the United States, in the weeks leading up to the holiday.

Holi is celebrated during the full moon in March, but in the Northeastern United States, people usually celebrate it in April or May when the weather gets warmer, Dr. Roy said.

In case of rain, the event will take place in Collegiate Hall.

On Tuesday, April 29, “Tasty Taiwan: Film Screening and Sampling Taiwanese Cuisine” will take place at 6 p.m. in the DeNaples Center’s Moskovitz Theater.

People will have the chance to sample such foods as beef noodles, scallion pancakes and fried rice noodles while watching the Oscar-nominated Taiwanese film “Eat Drink Man Woman.” Released in 1994 and directed by the renowned Ang Lee, the movie tells the story of a widowed master chef who lives in Taipei, Taiwan, with his three adult daughters. A highlight of the story is the elaborate family dinners that the chef prepares, and how he shows his love and concern for his daughters through food.

Allison Lai, a visiting lecturer in the University’s World Languages and Cultures Department, will offer remarks on Taiwanese history and culture before the screening begins.

The event is free, but an RSVP is required (by calling 570-941-7643), because space is limited.

On Thursday, May 1, there will be a Sky Lantern Workshop and Contest at 6:30 p.m. on the Dionne Campus Green. Space is limited for the free event and an RSVP is required by calling 570-941-7643.

Traditional sky lanterns, a kind of hot air balloon, are released into the night sky and burn up in the atmosphere. In Taiwan and China, they are typically made of rice paper and a bamboo frame. The fuel source is usually a small candle. They are used in festivals such as the annual Lantern Festival in New Taipei City, Taiwan, in which people write wishes on their lanterns before releasing them.

At the University’s workshop, people can join teams who will decorate the lanterns and later release them at the end of the evening concert. A panel of faculty members will judge the lanterns and award prizes. In case of rain, the workshop will take place in the Byron Recreation Complex.

Also on May 1, the Chai Found Music Workshop will perform at 7:30 p.m. on the DeNaples Center Patio and Dionne Campus Green. The group is a music ensemble from Taiwan that performs both traditional Taiwanese and Chinese music as well as “Asian fusion” ­– traditional music and instruments fused with Western pop and rock.

At the University, the group will perform its “Eastern Legends” rock concert, in which seven musicians playing traditional instruments like the Chinese zither, lute and dulcimer, are backed by a rock band and electronic dance music tracks. It is designed to serve as an introduction to Chinese music for Western audiences and an overview of different musical styles. “Eastern Legends” premiered in 2007 in Taiwan before an audience of 10,000 people.

            From May 1 through 31, there will be an Asian art exhibit in the Heritage Room of the Weinberg Memorial Library. The exhibit includes eight educational art posters from the Smithsonian Institution about Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. The exhibit highlights the history of Asian immigrants in the United States and their contributions to this country. The exhibit is free and open during library hours. For more information, call 570-941-7643.

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