SAAB and APIDA host annual Asian Gala

Kelsey Werkheiser, News Co-Editor

Students for Asian Awareness at Bucknell (SAAB) and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) presented their annual Asian Gala on Feb. 18. The theme this year was “festivals,” through which the groups utilized a variety of performances to showcase different Asian cultures. There was a variety of foods from different countries available as well. 

The night began with a K-Pop dance performance from the SAAB and APIDA executive boards. 

We also wanted to open up the 2023 Asian Gala a little differently,” Maxwell Chen ‘23, president of SAAB, said. “Usually, the gala opens up with a brief speech from the president of the MC. This year, however, our E-Board partnered up with APIDA’s E-Board to start off the gala with a surprise dance to ‘Permission to Dance.’ I don’t really dance or listen to K-pop, so this experience was daunting yet fulfilling.”

Following the opening was a Tinikling Dance from the Philippines, performed by Maya Kidder ‘26, Renee Palma ‘26, Harper Dick ‘25, Brian Dsouza ‘25, Clea Ramos ‘25, Ishmael Cabading ‘25, Marina Anglo ‘25, Molly Manhoff ‘25, Realyn Del Campo ‘26. 

“There were some people who’ve done it before, and I hadn’t, so it was nice to have that guidance,” Dick said. “We did a modern and traditional version of the dance, and while it was easier for me to learn the modern part, the traditional part really allowed me to get in touch with my Filipino roots. Before this, I hadn’t even heard the word Tinikling.”

“It didn’t fully come together until a couple days before the performance,” Manhoff said. “We had it down, but then we had people missing rehearsals because of illness or prior academic commitments. And then we also had to get used to doing the dance in skirts.”

“I had never had experience with that particular part of my culture, because I don’t really have a Filipino community in my area, so that was really cool,” Manhoff added. “We’re actually hoping to start a Filipino student club, so I’m hoping that gets off the ground in the future.”

Next, Japan was represented by a Karate demonstration from the campus Karate club. Puja Velani ‘24, Salina Musyaju ‘24, and Preeti Gurung ‘24 performed a dance representing Tihar. Next, Nishant Shrestha represented Nepal with a guitar and singing performance. The Korean Cultural closed out the first half of performances Association (KCA) with a K-Pop dance representing Gayo Daejeon music festival.

“I am very proud of the performers for their meticulous attention to detail and unwavering enthusiasm,” Chen said. “I think each performance reflected the cultures and festivals of each represented country very well. I was really glad that we sold out our tickets this year.”

The second half of the night began with a K-Pop dance representing Korea, performed by Selena Yu ‘26 and Kai Li ‘26. Next, the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) performed a dance to represent the Lunar New Year festival. The South Asian Student Association (SASA) then performed a Holi dance, to represent the Hindu Holi festival. Kai Li returned to the stage for a solo singing performance of “Mulan” song “Reflection” to represent China. Lastly, the Japan Society performed a Obon Coal Dance to represent the Bon Odori festival.

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