March 30, 2009

SIUC to celebrate Asian American Heritage Month

by Christi Mathis

Omar Kader
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will celebrate Asian American Heritage Month throughout April. “Cultural Threads Woven Into the Fabric of a United Future” is the theme of the 2009 celebration of Asian peoples and cultures.

“Asian American Heritage Month offers a phenomenal opportunity to expand our learning and raise our awareness and understanding of the vibrant and diverse cultures that make up Asian cultural heritage as well as our community of cultures at SIUC,” said Carl Ervin, coordinator of Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services. “Having an understanding of different cultures and the ability to work interdependently with folks from different backgrounds is a must for those planning to thrive in today’s global society.”

Among the highlights is an opportunity to hear from an authority on international development with extensive experience in the Middle East. Omar M. Kader has worked in the private sector and with democracy projects in the Middle East. Kader, who has a doctorate in international relations from the University of Southern California, has taught, lectured and made numerous television appearances to share his expertise about international development, the impact of terrorism on foreign policy and more.

He is the founder, chairman and owner of Pal-Tech Inc., a Washington, D.C.-area management consulting firm employing 250 that maintains projects with a number of U.S. government agencies. Kader served in the U.S. military and is active in Arab-American affairs, including service as executive director for two major Arab-American organizations. He visited Jordan as part of President Bill Clinton’s delegation in 1994 and has been an official international election monitor and observer for elections in Indonesia, Morocco, Palestine and Yemen. His keynote speech, “The National Interest of the U.S. in the Middle East,” is set for 7 p.m. April 13 in the Student Center Auditorium.

Special events, including craft and dining opportunities, films, dance, martial arts, drumming performances and more are part of the Asian American Heritage Month 2009 celebration schedule. Also planned are kite flying, sumo wrestling and even SIUC’s very own version of the popular television competitive cooking contest, “Iron Chef.”

“The countries of Asia are diverse and have some of the most vibrant cultures and oldest civilizations in the world,” said Mythili Rundblad, coordinator of Student Development. “The events that Carl and his committee have put together for Asian Awareness Month will help participants understand Asia’s rich history as well as the continent’s importance to our country’s economic, political and cultural relations. Each time I participate in an event for one of the historical commemorative months, I learn more about diversity and broaden my intellectual horizons.”

The schedule of events, all free and open to the public unless otherwise noted, includes:

Thursday, April 2

• 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Sushi at the Old Main Restaurant on the second floor of the Student Center. The all-you-can-eat luncheon buffet features sushi and other Asian cuisine for $6.99. You can even watch as sushi is hand-rolled. Make reservations by calling 618/453-5277.

Friday, April 3

• 11 a.m.: Martial Arts Day. Live martial arts demonstrations in the Free Forum area.

• 6:30 p.m.: Rice and spice potluck at the Interfaith Center, 913 Illinois Ave. Meet other people and enjoy trying as many different combinations of rice and entrees as possible. They’ll provide the rice and if possible, participants should bring an entrée to share.

Saturday, April 4

• 6-9 p.m.: Asian American Heritage Month Opening Event. It’s Taiko Drummer Night at Parkinson Hall, Room 124, as the University’s Japanese Student Association performs the Japanese Fisherman Dance preceding a performance by the acclaimed St. Louis Osuwa Taiko Drummers Troupe. Afterward, you can sample home-cooked foods from all over the world courtesy of international students and organizations. There will be a drumming workshop too, that evening after the concert.

April 8-10

• 11 a.m.-3 p.m. daily: Sumo Wrestling Competition at the south end of Faner Hall near the bicycle rack. This free three-day offers everyone the chance to don an inflatable sumo suit and compete for the title of best Sumo Wrestler at SIUC. Pre-register by Monday, April 6, by sending an e-mail to Arielle Bautista at or Vannak Chin at Awards will go to the winners.

April 11

• 6 p.m.: 5th Annual Iron Chef SIUC competition in Quigley Hall, Rooms 212, 214 and 219. Patterned after the popular television show, this is a competitive cook-off for SIUC students. Teams must register by March 31 by e-mailing It’s a U-Card event and spectators are welcome.

April 13

• 7 p.m.: Omar M. Kader is the keynote speaker in the Student Center Auditorium and the topic is “The National Interest of the U.S. in the Middle East.” Kadar is a regular on BBC, commenting about international events affecting U.S. global interests. His expertise includes policy development, international terrorism and Middle East business and development. A U-Card event.

April 14

• 7 p.m.: “Peace Propaganda and the Promised Land,” film showing in the Illinois Room on the second floor of the Student Center. The movie compares the media coverage from the U.S. and international media regarding the Middle East crisis, with concentration on how structural distortions from U.S. coverage reinforce false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A U-Card event.

April 16

• 7 p.m.: “Occupation 101,” film showing in the Illinois Room of the Student Center. This documentary looks at the current and historical factors resulting in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict along with U.S. government involvement. A U-Card event.

April 19

• 11 a.m.: 2nd Annual Kite Festival competition at Sam Rinella Field near the arena. Bring your homemade or store-bought kites and see how they’ll fly.

April 21

• 7 p.m.: “Paper Clips,” a film showing in the Illinois Room on the Student Center’s second floor. This award-winning documentary tells the tale of what happened when Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee began studying the Holocaust. It’s a tale of diversity, intolerance and inspiration. A U-Card event.

April 24

• 7 p.m.: Asian Invasion Culture and Fashion Show, Student Center Auditorium. View an array of exotic textile from Asian and surrounding nations, see how Asia has influenced and shaped the fashion world historically and today, and see students performing traditional dances and more from their native countries.

April 25

• 10 a.m.: Buddhist Religion Showcase and Khmer Dance Troupe, Parkinson Hall Auditorium. Monk Sopeatra, his fellows and a pair of assistants from the Cambodian Buddhist Association in Chicago will conduct a Buddhist religious ceremony followed by discussion of the religion, culture and practices. The event features chants in Khmer (Cambodian) and Thai languages. There will also be a Money Tree and Gift Giving Ceremony and a time for questions and answers. Those attending can attend a traditional Asian style luncheon and performance by the Khmer Association Dance Troupe following the Buddhist showcase.

4 p.m.: Sixth Annual Mariachi Poetry Night, Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center’s Small Business Incubator. The East meets West event features music, food and poetry in a fun-filled cultural show. Dress is semi-formal.

April 26

• 1 p.m.: Multicultural BBQ, campus lake boat docks. Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity is host for the barbecue to promote dialogue and build bridges between various cultures.

“It is important to be aware of the diverse cultures at the University,” said Alex Stojcevski, a graduate student from Custer Park studying architecture. “As a graduate assistant for Greek life, I realize it is important to inform all sub-councils of the diversity not only on this campus but in the Greek system as well.”

In conjunction with Asian American Heritage Month, the Student Center Craft Shop is sponsoring a number of special workshops and activities. They include:

• Raku pottery, Tuesdays and Thursdays from March 31 through April 16, 6-9 nightly. Create your own pottery using the 16th century Japanese pottery firing process resulting in a metallic luster and crackled finish. There’s a minimum of six and maximum of 12 participants. An outdoor firing 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on April 18 wraps up the series. The cost is $30 for SIUC students and $40 for anyone else with additional fees for materials.

• Sushi class and ceramics, April 14 and 21, 6-8 p.m. is the ceramic portion of the class where you can create a sushi plate, cups or bowls. Then, April 30 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., you can make and taste your own sushi. The series cost is $25 for University students and $35 for others and covers all supplies.

• Just Want to Make Sushi, April 13 and 30, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Learn to cook vinegar rice and roll nori to make sushi and then enjoy samples of your labors. Cost is $10 for students and $12 for others for each session; the cost includes all supplies. Registration of at least six but no more than 12 is required.

• Japanese Sumi Brush Painting, April 16, 6-8 p.m. Learn to grind your own ink, formulate proper brush strokes, and utilize Japanese compositional techniques to create beautiful artwork and Japanese characters with sumi brushes. There’s a $15 cost for students and $20 for others while materials are extra. Registration of between four and eight people is required.

• Japanese Tea Ceremony and Drum Circle along with Raku Firing, April 18, 1-3 p.m. Student Center South Patio.

• Origami, April 7 and 28, 6-8 each night. Learn the paper folding art the Chinese developed and the Japanese adopted. Choose to create a crane or any number of the folded paper designs. Special price this month is $2.

• Henna Body Art, April 10 and 24, 6-8 each night. Asian countries have practiced for thousands of years this non-permanent ink body décor art form. Now you can have your own for $2.

• Kite Making, April 13-18 when the Craft Shop is open, come build your own kite. Basic kits are $5. You can fly your finished kite at 11 a.m. April 19 at Sam Rinella Field during a massive kite-flying event.

For more information or to pre-register for Craft Shop events, call 618/453-3636 or 618/453-5209. You can also find out more by looking online at

Sponsors of Asian American Heritage Month are Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity, Graduate and Professional Student Council, Interfaith Center, International Student Council, Japanese Student Association, Student Center Craft Shop, Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services, Malaysian Student Association, SIUC Skydiving Club, Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity Inc., Thai Student Association, Undergraduate Student Government and United Asian American Council.

For more information about Asian American Heritage Month or any of the activities, contact Vannack Chin at or Student Development-Multicultural Programs and services at 618/453-5714 or look online at