March 24, 2010

SIUC to celebrate Asian American Heritage Month

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- “Lighting the Past, Present and Future” is the theme for April’s celebration of Asian American Heritage Month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“Asian American Heritage Month is a great way to experience, expand and enrich understanding of cultures, peoples, a common humanity and a sense of community. A community is a work in progress and through opportunities such as Asian American Heritage Month, we learn more about ourselves and others and move forward,” said Carl Ervin, coordinator of Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services.

You can go fly a kite -- literally, learn how to make sushi or just enjoy eating it, do sumi brush painting, make origami, and enjoy the University’s very own Iron Chef cooking competition. The celebration also includes thought-provoking films and presentations, a multi-cultural variety show, and a demonstration of the fascinating and intricate art of fruit and vegetable carving.

“The time has come to celebrate Asian American Heritage Month yet again. This year promises new events as well as events that were successful in the past enlightening the SIUC campus to the cultural diversity in Asia. April offers the opportunity to experience other cultures in a variety of ways. People should attend the events offered during AAHM because it is a fun and exciting way to learn about Asian culture and you get to see the hard work put into this month by your very own SIUC students,” said Linda Mei, a dental hygiene major from Crystal Lake who is president of the United Asian American Council.

Event organizers are also teaming with the School of Music’s Outside the Box new music festival for a very special evening of music to kick off Asian American Heritage Month. Internationally renowned Chinese composers Chen Yi and Zhou Long, along with the ensemble Music From China, will be featured in a special musical presentation April 1 that will also include SIUC student and faculty musicians. Those attending will get a chance to meet the composers prior to the concert, which will also include music by the SIUC Wind Ensemble, Concert Choir and Percussion Group as well as faculty artists. For details about Outside the Box 2010, visit

The schedule for Asian American Heritage Month 2010, with all events free and open to the public unless otherwise noted, includes:

Thursday, April 1

• SIUC ensembles with Music From China featuring Chen Yi and Zhou Long as guest composers. Meet the composers at 6:45 p.m. and enjoy the concert at 7:30 p.m. at Shryock Auditorium. The concert is the culmination of three days of interaction between the composers and the ensemble Music from China with SIUC music students and faculty. The SIUC Wind Ensemble, Concert Choir and Percussion Group will perform along with soloists from Music From China and SIUC faculty artists. Admission is $10 for the general public or $5 for students. SIUC students get in free with a valid identification due to Student Fine Arts Activity Fee funding.

Saturday, April 3

• Asian Extravaganza, 6 p.m., Quigley Auditorium. The event begins with a proclamation and includes a performance by the Indian dance team UIC Bhangra, a popular Chicago area troupe. Asian student organizations will make presentations too and the evening wraps up with the “Taste of Asia” dinner. SIUC students will prepare the cuisine.

Tuesday, April 6

• Sushi at Old Main, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Watch as sushi is hand rolled and then enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet of sushi and Asian cuisine for $7.29. Reservations suggested by calling 618/453-5277.

Thursday, April 8

• Poetry Night with Sigma Lambda Gamma, 7-9:30 p.m., Big Muddy Room on lower level of Student Center. Share your own poems, haikus, raps, rhymes, songs, lyrics, thoughts and self-expression during this open microphone poetry event.

Saturday, April 17

• SIUC Iron Chef Competition, 6 p.m., Quigley Auditorium. See SIUC’s own version of the hit television cooking competition. Teams will prepare a variety of dishes as they vie for the title in the sixth annual SIUC Iron Chef contest.

Tuesday, April 20

• Chef Ray Duey fruit carving demonstration, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Roman Room, Student Center. One minute it’s fruit, the next it’s a work of art. See Chef Ray Duey demonstrate this intricate art from Thailand, carving fruit and vegetables into all sorts of surprises.

Friday, April 23

• Asian Invasion Variety Show, 7-9 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms. University students will share of their culture via authentic attire and performance. The evening will include a special performance by nationally and internationally acclaimed Dance 2xs.

Monday, April 26

• Satoshi Toyosaki presents “From Japan to the United States,” 4:30 p.m., Student Center Auditorium. Toyosaki, a speech communication assistant professor at SIUC, will share autobiographic stories of his journey from Japan to the U.S. A specialist in international and intercultural communication studies, he’ll talk of Japan’s westernization and the cultural conflicts among East Asian nations as well as the important role cross-cultural dialogue plays in exploring and understanding such conflicts.

• Anna Baltzer offers “A Jewish Witness in Palestine Speaks: What Aren’t We Hearing and How is Peace Possible?”, 6 p.m. in the Student Center video lounge. Baltzer is a Jewish-American graduate of Columbia, a former Fulbright scholar and the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees. She’s also an award-winning lecturer, author and activist for Palestinian rights and she’ll touch on various aspects of the occupation (including checkpoints, settlements, the Wall and more) as well as the Nakba, censorship, Israeli activism and how people can get involved.

Tuesday, April 27

• “The Kite Runner,” film showing, 6 p.m., Illinois Room of the Student Center. This story of childhood betrayal, innocence, harsh reality and dream memories explores the blurry and sometimes relative path between good and evil. The story tells of Afghanistan before the Soviet tanks, the Taliban and all the other changes that transformed the country’s people, history and future.

Wednesday, April 28

• “Son Osmanli ‘Yandim Ali’ (The Last Ottoman)”, film, 6 p.m., Mississippi Room at Student Center. This 2007 Turkish film by Mustafa Sevki Dogan, based on a comic strip, tells of the Turkish resistance movement in Ottoman Istanbul, during the Allied occupation following World War I. Hale Hilmaz, assistant professor of history, will lead the discussion that follows.

Thursday, April 29

• “Persepolis,” film, 7 p.m., Mississippi Room at Student Center. Based on her best-selling novel, Marjane Satrapi and underground comic book artist Vincent Parannaud co-directed this very personal coming-of-age story about finding one’s place in the world, told through the eyes of a spunky girl overcoming many obstacles on the road to adulthood.

Friday, April 30

• “A Summer in La Goulette,” film, 6 p.m., Student Center’s Illinois Room. This film, set in 1967, tells of Muslim Youssef, Jewish Jojo and Catholic Guiseppe all living peacefully, side by side as best friends until the day each of their daughters swears to lose her virginity by a certain date with boys of different religions, challenging a taboo and leading to a rift between the men. Amidst this turmoil, the Six Day War begins in the Middle East, dividing Jews and Arabs.

Saturday, May 1

• Closing ceremony, barbecue and kite festival, 1-4 p.m., upper arena field. Join in with family and friends for a day of outdoor fun including kite flying and a picnic. You can purchase kite kits for $5 and make them at the Student Center Craft Shop prior to this event.

“We are so very fortunate to live in a University town. We have many opportunities to rub shoulders with so many different people from all over the world,” said Ron Dunkel, Student Center Craft Shop coordinator and staff advisor for the United Asian American Council. “I love the Asian American Heritage Month. There are many beautiful arts that come from Asia: dance, music, crafts and food. Attending the events immerses you in the cultures, opens doors to new opportunities and a better understanding of the world around us. Rather than travel to experience other cultures, the experience has come to Carbondale. Plus, you get to meet some amazing, dedicated people who are here at SIUC as students.”

In conjunction with Asian American Heritage Month, the Student Center Craft Shop is offering a series of special workshops too. Here are the special offerings from the Craft Shop in April:

• Raku Pottery, meets 6-9 p.m. Thursdays March 25 to April 15. This is a 16th century Japanese pottery firing process producing metallic luster and a crackled finish. Learn basic pottery skills for hand building, wheel throwing and raku glaze firing. A special firing 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on April 24 will finish the pieces. The workshop, for ages 12 and up, is $30 for SIUC students and $40 for others plus the cost of materials.

• Henna Body Art, 5:30-8:30 p.m., April 2-30. For thousands of years, Asian countries have applied individualized and artistic temporary henna tattoos for special occasions and you can get your own for $1 this month. How long it takes depends on the design you choose. Open to ages 12 and older.

• Just Want to Make Sushi, two separate sessions, 5:30-7:30 p.m., April 15 and April 27. Learn to cook vinegared rice and roll nori to make sushi and then sample your handiwork. Ages 12 and up. Cost is $10 for SIUC students and $12 for others plus materials.

• Japanese Sumi Brush Painting, 6-8 p.m., April 16. Create Japanese characters using authentic traditional methods. Grind you own ink, create proper brush strokes and use Japanese compositional techniques to begin painting like the masters do. For ages 12 and older, the cost is $15 for University students and $20 for others in addition to materials.

• Origami -- Beginners, learn to make a different creation each session and the cost is just $1 per hour. Here’s the schedule:

--- Butterfly, 5-6 p.m., April 5.

--- Cranes, 6-7 p.m., April 9.

--- Pinwheel, 6-7 p.m., April 14.

--- Cube, 6-7 p.m., April 16.

• Origami -- Advanced. Learn to make the more complicated origami artwork at a cost of $2 per hour. This is what you can make and when:

--- Hummingbird, 5-6 p.m., April 21.

--- Squirrel, 6-7 p.m., April 23.

--- Sea turtle, 6-7 p.m., April 30.

“Asian American Heritage Month sheds light on some of the various Asian cultures, allowing people from different cultures to interact, perform and educate about their cultures. Asian American Heritage Month is a celebration for all Asian Americans and their rich cultures and it gives all of us the opportunity to expand our cultural horizons,” said Bryan Pumphrey, a member of the United Asian American Council from Chicago majoring in radio/television and information systems and applied technologies.

Sponsors for Asian American Heritage Month include Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services, Campus Habitat, Chinese Student and Scholars Association, Graduate and Professional Student Council, Hispanic Student Council, Indian Student Association, Japanese Student Association, Kendo Club, Malaysian Student Association, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, School of Music, Student Fine Arts Activity Fee Committee, Underground Arts, United Asian American Council, Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Shikendo Club, SIUC Student Center Craft Shop and Taiwanese Student Association.

For more information, contact Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services at 618/453-5714 or visit its Web site or e-mail Linda Mei at To find out more about the SIUC Student Center Craft Shop and its special activities in April, look online at or call 618/453-3636.

(Editors, news directors: Photos of musical performers are available with our March 23 release on the Outside the Box music festival; go to