“My one and only goal for this year’s Flavors of Asia was to make it the best one yet,” wrote Octalyana Thaib ‘20, president of Fairfield University’s South Asian Student Association, via email about the annual event. On Friday, Nov. 15 students gathered in the Oak Room at 7 p.m. for the annual Flavors of Asia event hosted by SASA and the Asian Student Association. The event featured a variety of performances, from dancing by the Filipino Intercultural Entity Standing Together As Allies, to a martial arts demonstration by Fairfield’s Martial Arts Club, to a performance by belly dancer Aisha Olga Sokolovs, and a fashion show with looks by members of SASA and ASA.
The Oak Room in the John A. Barone Campus Center was set up with tables on either end of the room with an open space in the middle that served as the stage. Before the show began, attendees helped themselves to a buffet that included an array of dishes such as fried rice and spring rolls. Each table had a card placed in the center that featured a country in Asia and a fact about it.
At around 7:30 p.m., Patrick Setiadi ‘20 introduced the Executive Boards of both ASA and SASA, including the president of ASA Kajal Gopwami ‘21, Thaib, and vice president of SASA, Gia Han Pham ‘20. Thaib called this her “favorite moment” from the event. “The E-Boards were being introduced to the audience and I was the last one to be called out. I remember looking at my E-Board standing at the front while I waited in the doorway of the Dogwoods Room. The happiness present on their faces made all the hard work worth it.”
The first performance was a traditional Filipino dance called Tinikling by FIESTA. The dance is done in pairs over two sticks of bamboo, held down and moved throughout the dance by two other performers. “We’re all E-Board and members of FIESTA, and when we heard that SASA and ASA wanted us to dance, we were like ‘oh my gosh, of course,’” said Mikaela Annette Bravo ‘22 before the performance. The group had been rehearsing for three weeks. “I’m really afraid that I’m gonna like knick my feet…because we’re clicking bamboo together.”
The event continued with a dance performance by “Octa and Gia,” Thaib and Han Pham. They danced in a hip-hop style to a medley of music which concluded with the song “Kill This Love” by prominent South Korean K-pop girl group BLACKPINK.
Next up was Fairfield’s Remixx dance group, and after that Fairfield’s Martial Arts Club performed a demonstration. The co-presidents of the club, Jaclyn Cuculino ‘20 and Jack Esposito ‘21, explained the Korean Tang Soo Do, the style of martial arts that the club practices, and led the club’s members in demonstrating various forms. Cuculino remarked on the significance of these forms via electronic message, speaking to how they signify a members’ skill level. “Each one builds upon each other so by the time you get to the really high forms they are really complex and technical,” she said. “While they may seem funny to an outsider it actually requires an immense amount of skill and precision that translates into other aspects of our training.”
After a brief intermission, the event continued with the annual fashion show, belly dancer, a piano performance by Enkh-Amgalan Batburen ‘22 and another performance by Remixx.
“People say they don’t know how we topped last year but somehow we did it!” wrote Thaib. “That goal, while simple, was what has been leading my vision for Flavors of Asia ever since stepping into Presidency for SASA three years ago.”
“Events like Flavors of Asia are important to showcase the diversity and talent of the student body,” she continued. “Students are provided a place where they can comfortably bring another part of their self-identity to campus. Our club is welcome to all who wish to join. Planning for our signature event for the Spring, Holi, has already started and we would love to have students that wish to become more involved as a direct result of Flavors of Asia.”