by Tim Ziman
Benedictine University marked their 8th Annual Celebration of the Chinese
New Year when they hosted the Festival of Asia on Friday, February 20 in the Krasa Center.
The event itself was not just limited to the celebration marking the Year of the Goat; it was an exploration of the many sights, sounds and tastes of Asia, featuring Vietnam, India, Japan, Korea and China.
The event officially began with a demonstration of fried rice and rice cooking by the ‘House of Emperor’ who had been given permission to use the grill section of the kitchen in the Krasa Dining Hall.
Lunch was a blend of traditional oriental cooking, vegetable samosa with chicken teriyaki and white rice with stir-fried vegetables.
Following lunch was a short address by Benedictine University’s President Carroll, who welcomed everyone to the 8th Annual Festival of Asia and explained briefly that “this was a Celebration of the New Year” and wished “everyone a happy New Year.”
Benedictine is connected with Asia, and has many new opportunities for studying abroad as well as international programs.
Following the dance preformed by Ms. Dhamavasi, were student representatives from the Hindu Students Association who performed a vibrant BhanRaas Empire Dance.
The last performance was by the Chicago Korean Dance Company, performing a traditional Jang-Go dance using hourglass drums. The all-women drum company brought in the end the Performing arts of Asia segment of the program.
“The event has grown over the years, bigger and better. The alums, students and community members help to make this event better, ” said the Executive Vice President of Benedictine University, Charles Gregory.
This was Vice President Gregory’s 8th festival.
“Each year it is better than the one before,” said Gregory.
Clothing and odds and ends tables showcased the clothes and art of Japan, Korea and Vietnam, which included traditional clothing as well as artifacts from the different regions in each country. This provided some of the students who were there for extra credit a chance to explore the cultures of Asia and understand some of the art.
Ms. Dhamavasi, who was representing the Thai Classical Dance School of the Thai Buddhist Temple, was attending an event at BenU for the first time.
“This was my first time here at Benedictine, the festival was great and a lot of fun,” said Communications professor at Triton College and Traditional Thai Dance instructor, Professor Dhamavasi.
President William Carroll sees a future for the Festival of Asia at Benedictine University as he expects, the event will grow larger with each year.
“The Rice Center and then the McCormick Center,” said Carroll.
Some students were experiencing the festival for the first time.
“I talked to one visitor on her way out. She asked me if this was the first Festival of Asia. I said, ‘No this is the 8th FOA’, which promoted the comment ‘how did I miss this event,” said the Executive Director of Asian Studies and event organizer Elsie Yuan Miss Yuan.
“This probably is the first time that most of us were able to watch live cultural performances from these countries at Benedictine University.”
“Whether learning how to cook Yangzhou fried rice, taste Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean food, shop at the Asia market, and get a caricature or play Ping-Pong, I felt people enjoyed the event and learned something new about the rich Asian cultures.”
There were not many things Yuan would change for next year’s event to make it better, if there was one thing.
“To schedule the ping-pong championship to play after the featured programs,” said Yuan.
This event brings the Benedictine University community together every year.
“The festival has evolved from a simple New Year gathering to a celebration of unity. We showcase our global reach and experience, recognize individuals who have made a difference in other people’s lives, attract community members and vendors to Benedictine, but most importantly involve our students, faculty, and staff in the creation of the event,” said Yuan.
The event brought over a hundred students, faculty and members of the public; it was offered to all students as a way of increasing their knowledge of Asian culture.