ASO promotes Asian culture on campus

The Asian Student Organization (ASO) kicks off its first official year at Augustana University with plans for a launch party and campus-wide community building event.

The group formed last spring and held an introductory picnic, bringing in approximately 50 people, according to ASO president JuJu Abobakr. After the first ASO board meeting of this semester, the organization has plans for community service projects, exploring Asian restaurants around Sioux Falls, making a float for the Viking Days parade and throwing a launch party.

ASO will throw the launch party Saturday, Sept. 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The party will be in the 3-in-1 room in the upper level of the Morrison Commons. “It’s going to be focused on culture,” ASO event coordinator Jazmne Thanpaeng said. “We’re going to have food, music and a surprise raffle.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the launch party, even if they are not an official member of ASO.  “We want to bring a bunch of people together: new students and old students,” Thanpaeng said.

For ASO, the launch party is the first event in a year focused on bringing people together to celebrate and learn about Asian culture. Yifan Yuan, the organization’s vice president, said the group wants to focus on reaching more students.

ASO hopes to do this through more informal events, such as going out to eat at Asian restaurants in Sioux Falls. The group has already visited Lao Szechuan, a Laotian hot pot buffet. “We are also planning to go to Everest—an Indian restaurant—and somewhere to get sushi,” Thanpaeng said.

To fulfill the group’s service component, ASO wants to engage the Sioux Falls community by visiting public schools and teaching students about Asian languages, cuisine and traditions.

“We thought that the best way we could share culture and the best way we could integrate into the Sioux Falls’s culture while representing diverse voices at Augustana would be to volunteer in the community,” Abobakr said.

By bringing together different cultures, Abobakr hopes to dissolve cultural divides on campus. “The purpose of the club is to bridge between those cultures, between those people, and bring them together to have a fun time, learn from each other and exchange culture,” Abobakr said.

Personally, Abobakr is excited to see people talking together. “I’m really excited to be at an event and see people smiling and telling each other about their differences, their similarities,” Abobakr said. “Basically, exchanging culture and becoming friends.”

ASO is open to all Augustana University students, including those who are not of Asian descent. To join, students can find the group on Viking Central, contact a board member or come to an event.

“We want students to know that you don’t qualify to be in this club,” Abobakr said. “It is open to anyone and everyone who is interested in learning about Asian culture.”

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