March 30, 2011

SIUC to celebrate Asian American Heritage Month

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- "A Celebration of Consciousness" is the theme of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's April celebration of Asian American Heritage Month.

“Asian American Heritage Month provides added value to the knowledge base and cultural experiences of the members of our diverse campus and community. In building connections to and within communities, it is an opportunity to learn and to grow and it is not to be missed,” said Carl Ervin, coordinator of Multicultural Programs and Services at SIUC.

A wide array of activities including films, martial arts, discussions, music and even an Iron Chef competition will allow people to experience the many cultures that are Asian Americans. You can also enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, a Korean cultural and entertainment day, and much more. It all wraps up with the Taste of Asian Spring Festival, an outdoor event celebrating Asian cultures with fun, food, games, and live performances on April 30.

“I believe it is important for individuals from all backgrounds to attend at least one of the numerous Asian American Heritage Month activities. It is important because we should all take the time to become familiar with the different aspects portrayed in all of the diverse cultures we are exposed to each and every day,” said Kelsey Rahmoeller, a senior biological sciences major.

The schedule for Asian American Heritage Month 2011, with all events free and open to the public unless otherwise noted, includes:

Saturday, April 2

• Opening Ceremony of Asian American Heritage Month 2011, 6-8 p.m., Lawson Hall, Room 161. The ceremony features an evening of fun, entertainment and culture from the SIUC United Asian American Council and friends.

Monday, April 4

• “Axis of Evil,” film and discussion, 7-8:30 p.m., Student Center, Saline Room. The film clip feature hilarity from comedians of Middle Eastern descent and the interactive discussion will be both educational and funny, highlighting the way laughter connects peoples and groups.

Tuesday, April 5

• Sushi in Old Main, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Old Main Restaurant at the Student Center. Watch the hand rolling of sushi and then enjoy an all-you-can eat buffet with sushi and other Asian cuisine for $7.29. For reservations call 618/453-5277.

Tuesdays -- April 5,12,19 and 26

• T’ai Chi, 5:45 p.m.-6:45 p.m. Gaia House/Interfaith Center. It’s a time to practice this martial art with a focus on nature, energy and soft resistance.

Thursday, April 7

• Intersections: A Brown Bag Lunch Discussion Series event, with the focus on Hurricane Katrina and Asians, noon-1 p.m., Student Center, Corinth Room. Bring your lunch and join in this discussion about the connections between Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans and the city’s Asian community.

Monday, April 11

• “Animal Appetites,” film and discussion, noon-1 p.m., Student Center, Missouri Room. Learn about a couple of Cambodian immigrants arrested for allegedly killing their dog for food and how rumors abound some places in the U.S. about ethnic restaurants. This documentary film and the interactive discussion that follows will focus on acceptance of immigrants, cultural diversity, animal rights and more.

Thursday, April 14

• Let’s Get Financially Savvy! 12:30-1:30 pm., Student Center, Missouri Room. Join a panel discussion including SIUC business professors as they focus on their educational journey through the world of business and offer techniques and information to help you become financially savvy.

• “Japanese Animation Movies” with Satoshi Toyosaki, assistant professor of speech communication, 6 p.m., Lawson Hall, Room 231. Toyosaki will discuss Japanese animation movies, past and present, focusing on three main areas: the history of Japanese pop culture, the Japanese/Western cross-fertilization effect, and animated movies as a social movement genre. He’ll show movie clips and engage in discussion throughout the presentation with those in attendance.

Toyosaki, who earned his doctorate in speech communication at SIUC in 2005, has a number of interests including intercultural/international communication, Japanese pop culture, and intercultural communication.

Friday, April 15

• Tokyo String Quartet, 7:30 p.m., Shryock Auditorium. The Tokyo String Quartet, founded some four decades ago, has been captivating audiences ever since, gaining high regard as a chamber ensemble in its own right and in collaboration with a wide variety of artists and composers creating a significant collection of acclaimed recordings. Tickets are $39 for adults or $10 for SIUD students or children (with a $1.50 service charge per ticket for online and phone orders. Call 618/453-2787 or look online at for details.

Saturday, April 16

• Raku Firing, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (may end sooner if firing is complete), Student Center, south patio. Bring Raku bisque items to fire or purchase ceramic pieces and glaze for firing that day on a walk-in basis. Or, just watch as this firing process transforms items.

• Seventh Annual SIUC Iron Chef Competition, 5-7 p.m., Quigley Hall. See 10 Southern Illinois teams battle in this culinary contest before a live audience.

Monday, April 18

• “Passion for Justice,” film and discussion, 6:30 p.m., Student Center, video lounge. Yuri Yochiyama, a Japanese American woman and human rights activist, suffered interment in the Jerome War Relocation Center in Arkansas during World War II and later moved to Harlem where she labored for human rights individually and with various organizations. She worked on behalf of the Black Liberation movement, the struggle for Puerto Rican independence and the Japanese American Redress movement. She was with Malcolm X when he was fatally shot and in 2005 received a Nobel Peace Price nomination. The film tells of her life through interviews with family and friends, archival footage, photographs and more.

Tuesday, April 19

• Student/Teach Abroad, 10-11 a.m., Student Center, Kaskaskia Room. Tiffany Mason, an African American SIUC senior majoring in linguistics, has lived and taught in Korea and will share her insights about teaching in South Korea through the Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) program. The program offers participants a paid internship including airfare, training, health insurance and a monthly stipend to teach in Korea.

Wednesday, April 20

• Korean Culture and Entertainment Day, 10-11 a.m., Student Center, Kaskaskia Room. Tiffany Mason, an SIUC student who taught in South Korea, will share insights about the culture, language and entertainment during this program. Those attending can learn the Korean alphabet, greetings, numbers and more and enjoy Korean snacks while supplies last.

Monday, April 25

• Japanese Tea Ceremony, 2 p.m., Student Center, Old Main Lounge. The Way of Tea, the Japanese tea ceremony, is a cultural activity that includes the ceremonial preparation and drinking of matcha, a powdered green tea. Join in this aesthetic and symbolic ceremony influenced by Zen Buddhism.

Saturday, April 30

• Taste of Asia Spring Festival, 1-5 p.m., Shryock Auditorium, front steps. Enjoy an afternoon of fun, food, games and live performances outdoors celebrating Asian cultures.

“Asian American Heritage Month decreases cultural boundaries by increasing cultural awareness,” said Chris Hernando, a senior automotive technology major who serves as president of the United Asian American Council at SIUC.

The Craft Shop at the Student Center is also celebrating Asian American Heritage Month with special activities. Each Friday in April you can get henna body art from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Bring your own henna artist and get a non-permanent henna tattoo, an Asian art form dating back thousands of years, for just $1. Or, have an artist there create a design for you for an additional $6 per 15 minutes work. Walk-ins ages 12 and older are welcome.

“The events held to celebrate AAHM are so amazing. The Iron Chef competition is very serious. The Raku pottery firing is very magical to watch. It is wonderful to be able to share the rich Asian cultures right here at SIUC. We have some very amazing international students who work very hard to benefit all of us,” said Ron Dunkel, director of the Student Center Craft Shop.

You can also learn Japanese brush art all month long at the Craft Shop. Staff there will teach you how to use a traditional brush and ink on rice paper to write your name with the proper brush strokes using phonetic Japanese characters called “hiragana.” It takes about 15 minutes to write a name and anyone ages seven and up is welcome to participate. The cost is $2 for SIUC students or $3 for non-students.

If you “Just Want to Make Sushi” you can learn to do that too, at a workshop the Craft Shop is hosting on April 8 and again April 26. Each session is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and gives all of the how-to instructions for cooking vinegar rice and rolling nori to make sushi. And, you can even sample your work. The cost is $10 for SIUC students or $12 for the public and that covers the cost of all supplies. The workshop is open to ages 12 and older. You must register in advance at the Craft Shop on the lower level of the student or by calling 618/536-3636.

For more information about any of the Craft Shop activities, email or call 618/453-3636.

Sponsors for Asian American Heritage Month include Multicultural Programs and Services, United Asian American Council, Student Center-Craft Shop, Japanese Student Association, Southern Lights Entertainment and the Office of the Associate Chancellor (Institutional Diversity).

“I think that it is important to celebrate Asian American Heritage Month because it is interesting to understand different cultures. Japan is experiencing lots of devastation right now and I would like to become more aware as to what I could do to help,” said Quintin Webster, an intern with Multicultural Programs and Services.

Asian American Heritage Month is one of the many initiatives from Multicultural Programs and Services (MPS), a unit of Student Life and Intercultural Affairs. MPS also hosts a variety of other events promoting cultural competency at the University including Latino Heritage Month, GLBT History Month, Native American Heritage Month, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance and Women’s History Month.

“Asian culture is very important to explore. Having an understanding of this culture could help strengthen one’s cultural awareness and understanding of international issues,” said Katelyn Nolan, a graduate student in higher education.

For more information about Asian American Heritage Month 2011, contact Christopher Hernando, president of the United Asian American Council, at, or Multicultural Programs and Services at 618/453-5714. Or, look online at