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ASA's Journey into Asia took flight

This year’s Journey into Asia was called “Flight — One Stage, One Night, Experience Asia.”

Presented by the UNC Asian Students Association, the annual showcase is meant to display the diversity of the Asian and Asian American community at UNC and the Triangle area.

JIA is consistently ASA’s largest production of the year. In keeping with this year’s theme, paper passports doubled as programs for the evening’s performance.

The 13 on- and off-campus groups performed a capella, taiko drums, as well as traditional, folk, bollywood fusion and hip hop dance.

There were more than 150 performers this year, including three masters of ceremony who aided the transition from one group to the next.

Sophomore Nae Won, ASA’s vice president of cultural affairs, said the purpose of JIA is to spread Asian awareness within the community in a fun and creative way.

“This year’s JIA particularly focused on inspiring and encouraging people to go over the challenges of life to achieve their goal, displayed by the theme,” Won said. “The different performances and emcee acts focused on sending the message across.”

Won said she is glad this year’s JIA turned out well as a combined effort of such a large number of people.

“If it wasn’t for the support and effort of so many, this show probably would not have happened,” she said.

Senior Elle Law, co-founder of the Flying Silk Chinese Dance Troupe, has been performing at JIA since her freshman year.

“Flying Silk’s mission is to preserve traditional Chinese dance because it’s a shrinking dance form, both in China and here,” Law said. “We try to keep our moves traditional, with the focus on the dance itself.”

JIA is one of Flying Silk’s biggest performances of the academic year.

“It’s normally our debut dance of the year, so that’s when the new members have the first opportunity to perform,” Law said.

This year, her group introduced twice as many performers as last year.

The opening act for the night was a parade of flags, showcasing the diversity and unity of the various Asian countries.

Senior Ashley Blair, who represented China in the flag parade, said she hopes people can learn of the beauty and differences in culture when they come to JIA.

“There has been so much talk of the ignorance of the Asian culture, that it would be nice if they learned a bit more about us for once,” she said. “All the support and love for the Asian arts is touching.”

JIA’s message of support also materialized in a last-minute executive decision to include a short moment of silence for those affected by the tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan. As of now, as many as 10,000 people are feared dead.

“JIA is a cultural showcase, so in essence, the purpose is to create a gathering to appreciate — and where applicable, recognize the impact of Asian culture and heritage on our identities,” Law said. “I see the moment of silence as another aspect of that recognition, whether for relatives living in impacted areas, for ‘fellow Asians,’ or just to recognize the tragedy others are facing, regardless of cultural background.”

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