Massages, noodles and dance attract pre-SASA show crowd

Suzy Ru

Before a crowd of 600 people crammed into Ryan Family Auditorium for the South Asian Students Alliance winter show Saturday night, a smaller group of students affiliated with the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore clubs sponsored Northwestern’s first Asian Fun Fest.

About 40 students came to Parkes Hall for the festival Saturday afternoon decked out in exotic robes and traditional cultural ensembles.

An assortment of foreign foods was offered, from sweet desserts and little pastries to spicy noodles.

“The food is wonderful — an A-plus in my book,” said Andy Donovan, a Weinberg sophomore. “You can go to a Chinese restaurant and get Americanized Chinese food, but here, you can get a more definite, specific type of Asian food. I can see the more distinct differences between the cultures.”

Along with the food, cultural games and activities, several performances entertained the crowd. Free Thai massages were given on a plush mat in the corner of the room, and a dance group gave a demonstration of tinikling, a Filipino folk dance.

“It’s been great being able to work on this project and collaborate with all these different clubs,” said Joe Graciosa, president of the Filipino Club. “You learn a lot about culture, and it’s a great opportunity to meet some new people on campus that you otherwise wouldn’t have.”

While some students praised the food and performances, others said they were bothered by the small turnout.

“I’m a little disappointed,” said Sakinah Alhabshi, president of the Malaysian Club. “It’s a pity because International Fest was so much bigger. This event was smaller and more personal, but we have to work on publicity.”

Joyce Koh, a member of Singaporeans and Friends, said she enjoyed attending Saturday afternoon’s event because it focused specifically on Southeast Asia.

“Normally the bigger clubs like the Korean and Indian clubs throw events and programs that are much bigger and overshadow us,” said Koh, a Weinberg senior. “This event lets the smaller clubs get together and show their food and culture to the rest of campus.”