New Southeast Asian Student Organization Hosts First Event
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Student Association will have ASEAN Night on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Constitution Hall in the Nigh University Center.
The night is ASEAN’s first event since their establishment in Fall 2018 and is hosted in collaboration with the Asian American Student Association’s event line-up for the university’s first Asian American Awareness Month.
“We are a new organization, but the officers are not new to campus involvement and leadership,” said Julia Daine, ASEAN advisor. “They have used their leadership skills as well as their experience in organizing and collaborating to create an organization that represents those from Southeast Asian Nations who were once underrepresented on campus.”
ASEAN Night will feature a fusion of traditional and modern performances from different Southeast Asian countries that some UCO students might not be familiar with, according to ASEAN President Shi Qi Ting.
“It will be a night filled with dances, songs and free Thai food,” said Ting. “We found that many UCO students’ view of Asia is limited to East Asia like China, Japan and Korea, but Asian culture is very diverse and ASEAN has a unique culture that we are proud to present for the very first time on the UCO campus.”
As an organization, ASEAN promotes intergovernmental cooperation between its member nations and represents Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Myanmar and Indonesia.
Ting said the collaboration with AASA has provided a platform to connect with other country associations as part of Asian Awareness Month on campus. It also has helped with connections in the community, as the event’s sponsors include local businesses such as Textbook Brokers, Panang 5 Thai Restaurant, Thai Delight, Simply Falafel and Cafe De Taipei and international sponsors such as the Singapore Tourism Board, the Philippines’ Tourism Board and the Embassy of Brunei.
“We want to make this event a little different from a typical cultural night; we want to share the history and geography that tied us together, and how that has affected our language and culture,” Ting said.
Currently, ASEAN has around 25 members that represent Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Their goal is to reach out to more of the students from the other countries that fall under the ASEAN umbrella, according to Ting.
“ASEAN can be improved by continued growth, which is a goal of ASEAN and they hope to involve more students from Southeast Asian Nations as well as those students who are interested in learning more about different cultures,” Daine said.
However, at the same time, Ting said she is worried about whether the association is going to last. There is no students from Brunei on campus and the number of Southeast Asian international students on campus is relatively small. She said they have also included students who are Asian American and has reached out to them as a way of sustaining the organization as well.
“I just want ASEAN Student Association to be the platform for students who are unrepresented and for their voices to be heard,” Ting said.