Students and guests from diverse backgrounds, some dressed in traditional East Asian garb, came together Tuesday to enjoy a day of remembrance and appreciation of Asian cultures.
CSUF President Fram Virjee hosted the annual reception in the Fullerton Arboretum to celebrate Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month.
“To the homeless and unsupported communities, we support you, to our friends and partners living in fear of deportation, we support you,” said Jacob Chacko, coordinator of the Asian Pacific American Resource Center and interim coordinator of the Titan Dreamers Resource Center.
The reception featured a variety of cuisines, music, traditional dances and mindfulness expert Charlotte Ái Nguyen as the keynote speaker. With the help of the Asian American Studies Program, it was coordinated by the Asian Pacific American Resource Center.
With this year’s theme, “Resist: Visible and United,” Chacko said he was looking for a speaker who could “connect with the theme of resistance” and with topics that affect the Asian community.
Students from the Japanese Culture Club performed a traditional Japanese fishermen’s dance called Soran Bushi, which is meant to keep the fishermen’s spirits alive.
“I think it’s significant because I feel like it’s something that gets people interested and motivated. We yell a lot in the dance so it’s invigorating,” said Ashley Cook, one of the Japanese Culture Club performers.
The reception turned political when Virjee spoke about his history as a labor and employment lawyer and mentioned current issues of deportation that the Latino and Latina community face, as well as the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
“As intolerance and hatred in our country’s origins sins emerges over time from the shadows, we see parallels in our current communities,” Virjee said.
Konnor Feese, a clinical psychology major, said he looked forward to hearing from Nguyen because she wants to apply her mindful approach to help his future clients as a clinical therapist.
Nguyen told her story as the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, surviving sexual assault, battling depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder and how she coped despite these experiences.
Her story highlighted the theme of resistance as she spoke about her mother’s strength and journey to America.
Vy Le, a senior Asian American studies major, said she resonated with Nguyen’s speech as she also pulls her determination and strength from her mother and family.
“It definitely inspired me to keep doing what I do in terms of revolution work,” Le said.
Nguyen also talked about the Asian heritage and culture that encompasses language, traditional ceremonies, and maintaining family and community relationships.
“It is my belief that maintaining that fire and keeping that fire strong is the most important thing we need to do in order to continue existing as a people,” Nguyen said.