VariAsians: A Display of Vibrancy
A sense of satisfaction set in as cheerful chatter gave way to the sound of happy munching and appreciative smiles. Gleeful eyes darted around the room, taking in the sea of colorful faces and festive decorations that had been put up for the event. The occasion that had brought so many together on a Friday night in fall, was the long-awaited VariAsians show. As chatter and laughter among the group of event-goers began to grow, the packed room was truly a testament to the diverse and tight-knit community that is Mount Holyoke College.
More than a quarter of the nearly 2,300 students that attend Mount Holyoke College, identify as an international student. From Canada to Qatar, the presence of students from over 70 countries is what has earned Mount Holyoke the reputation for being one of the most diverse liberal arts schools in the United States. It is because of Mount Holyoke’s vast diversity that cultural events such as the VariAsians showcase are well-attended and don’t go unnoticed.
The event was highly attended by both Mount Holyoke students and students from the five-college area, who came to watch the performances, eat food and cheer on their peers during the fashion show. The event which was sponsored by the Mount Holyoke Asian Student Association, occurs at Mount Holyoke annually, alongside other school-sponsored events that are dedicated to displaying Asian culture. In addition to VariAsians, which is a generalized celebration of Asian food and clothing, there are also other evenings dedicated to celebrating Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese heritage.
The event which entailed an evening of dancing, musical performances, and a fashion show showcased the vibrant student talent that Mount Holyoke has to offer. The performances also showcased the diversity of Asian Counties. A performance which was made by the Mount Holyoke’s Raunak Bhangra Dance Team displayed a style of Indian dance. While the Mount Holyoke Raqs dance team performed a belly dance routine.
Amidst the dance performances, there were a few solo acts for the night. A guitar performance by Mount Holyoke junior, Lynn Shen featured her singing and playing the acoustic guitar, while a cover to the Chinese rap song, “Made in China,” was one of the other solo performances for that night. The Chinese rap performance which was one of the more upbeat aspects of the show and was performed by Mount Holyoke freshman, Weiyue Chen represented a more contemporary aspect to Chinese culture. With the recreated music video playing in the background, the audience was encouraged to sing along as the words in Chinese with English subtitles appeared on the screen.
As students sat at the long tables that had been set up for the dinner portion of VariAsians, the decorated Chapin space and delicate table centerpieces were appreciated by event goers who excitedly snapped pictures of the occasion.
In a buffet style, food that had been catered from different Asia restaurants from the area, were neatly laid out on two tables that had been placed on either side of the room. Coconut rice with mango and spring rolls, were among the selection of food that had been brought in for the occasion. As the lines to get food grew in length, hungry student diners anxiously waited to be served by student volunteers. After everyone had been served, students were invited up to take seconds but were left disappointed to find that not much food remained.
In the final event of the evening, a student fashion show was put on. Dressed in traditional garments representing the various Asian countries, students walked the catwalk in a proud display of colors and heritage. In recognition of the Pacific Island, East Asia and South-East Asia, the models wore everything from sarongs and leis to robes detailed with intricate designs.
For an institution as diverse as Mount Holyoke College, cultural events such as VariAsians, allow students to share the love they have for their culture with their peers. It’s a chance for students from all backgrounds to unite for a night of cultural recognition and celebration.
As students of all colors sat in Chapin chattering, watching the performances, eating food, and enjoying the sense of community, it truly seems that Mount Holyoke had earned its reputation as “Mo-Home.”