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Asian American Students Association to host kaleidoscope-themed cultural showcase

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Members of UNC AASA perform at the 2022 Journey into Asia. This year's Journey Into Asia event theme is "Kaleidoscope," and will be held on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023. Photo Courtesy of Kevin Dai.

For over three decades, Journey Into Asia has given students the opportunity to share their culture through dance, poetry, spoken word and songs. On Sunday, the event returns with this year's theme: “Kaleidoscope.” 

Hosted by the Asian American Students Association each year, this event showcases Asian and Asian American students’ cultural diversity and creativity within the community.   

Gaomomee Yang, a junior and co-cultural chair of AASA, said the theme for this year was chosen to represent the inclusiveness and identity of Asian Americans. 

“If you think about it, the Asian American community and ethnic minority groups come together and assemble,” she said. “And we’re so diverse and just as beautiful as the image that a kaleidoscope creates.” 

Yang said that Journey Into Asia is different from other cultural events on campus because it allows students and clubs from a variety of backgrounds to participate.  

“JIA focuses on more than just one culture specifically," she said. “We invite South Asian, Southeast Asian and East Asian organizations and performers to come out and perform.” 

Held in the Carolina Union's Great Hall, Yang said they are expecting close to 600 people to be in attendance. 

Kathleen Chau, a junior and co-cultural chair of UNC AASA, said the event will feature nine performance groups from UNC and one from Duke. The showcase will also include a special performance from Filipino singer Rocco. 

Yang said she is proud that the club could have Rocco perform at the event as he is popular within the Asian American community. 

“The fact that we were able to get him out and come perform is a huge deal for us because we were kind of stressed out about that part of it,” she said.  

In addition to Rocco, the showcase will feature performances from groups such as Samaa, Hmong Dance and Kasama

Katrina Angus, a sophomore and publicity chair for Kasama, said the Filipino club has been learning Tinikiling, a national dance of the Philippines, and adding a “modern twist” to the experience. 

“Our dance team has spent the last couple of months laying different parts of the dance, and I'm excited to see the whole thing happen,” she said. 

Angus added that attending the showcase last year made her excited to see the other clubs perform again as it was interesting to watch. 

Chau also said she is excited to see the whole showcase because the club has been planning the event since last spring. 

“I'm looking forward to having it all come together and seeing all the performance groups and seeing all of our hard work pay off,” she said. 

Holding this event on campus is important to many members of UNC AASA and the clubs that are performing at the show. 

Angus said that JIA helps to expose individuals to unique parts of Asian culture, which she said helps decrease stereotypes surrounding the Asian community. 

“With Journey into Asia, you see all these different types of organizations,” she said. “And it's not really a model minority, but more like Asia is so diverse.”   

Yang noted that since the Asian identity is often seen as an “umbrella term” that groups individuals of different ethnicities together, this event allows students to showcase their unique parts of themselves. 

“This is a chance for such people to show a part of their culture and who they are to the community,” she said. 

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Angus added that this showcase allows individuals to learn about different perspectives and unique parts of the culture of Asia, which she said is important after the amount of hate the Asian community experienced over COVID-19. 

Yang said her favorite thing about this event is that it allows students to bring everyone together through culture.

“Journey into Asia is an outlet for Asian and Asian American students on campus,” she said. “It lets us be creative and share a part of us with the community, and seeing us come together is the best part.” 

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