Expanding Cultural Understanding Through ASIA

by Heidi Specht on November 12, 2018

Expanding Cultural Understanding Through ASIA

by Heidi Specht on November 12, 2018

This is the first year that I decided to attend the Asian Students in America (ASIA) Club. I was invited by my friend Seisuke, a Japanese exchange student at Arcadia whom I met over the summer at IPAL orientation. Ever since he heard that the first ASIA meeting would have free sushi, Seisuke was dying to go.

My friends, Seiuske Moriyama and Laura Gebelhoff, at ASIA club.

Upon arrival, Seisuke looked at the sushi, turned to me, and whispered, “This is not sushi.” I explained that this was what we considered sushi in America, and he laughed, telling me, “Next week, I will cook you real Japanese sushi. I will show you.” (In Japan, sushi is bite-sized and contains just a few ingredients— a departure from America’s large pieces packed with different types of fish, avocado, and cream cheese.)

As another 50 or so students squeezed into the room, Seisuke and I sat with our friends from China, Caesar (Kecheng Hu) and Ben (Zhou Xiao Yu). Once everyone arrived, we took turns introducing ourselves and talking about why we were there. The group was split between Asian students and non-Asians, but everyone had the same thing in common: an interest in Asian culture and a desire to make new friends. Seisuke said he was just there to eat the sushi, and everyone laughed— but after the meeting he told me how happy he was to have met so many other Asian students on campus.

These clubs are at Arcadia for a reason. They ensure Asian students feel represented and supported, but also help people to learn about and better understand different cultures.

- Heidi Specht

Short and sweet, the meeting ended with President Tatiana Bazile talking about upcoming events, such as the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, movie screenings, and a Halloween dance.

Coming to Arcadia, it might be difficult to join clubs that are out of your comfort zone. As a freshman, I remember thinking that I could never join ASIA club because I’m not Asian. But these clubs are at Arcadia for a reason. They ensure Asian students feel represented and supported, but also help people to learn about and better understand different cultures.

By doing so, we gain important cultural knowledge we wouldn’t have otherwise. This knowledge helps prevent appropriation, dismantle prejudices, and create cross-cultural spaces and relations.