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Asian Kaleidoscope Month kicks off 25th year with ‘Epoch’ opening ceremony

Asian Kaleidoscope Month kicks off 25th year with ‘Epoch’ opening ceremony

On Friday, September 29, Asian Kaleidoscope Month started their 2017 celebration off strong with its opening ceremony, held in the J. Wayne Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. What started in 1992 as a week-long celebration has grown to a full month of 13 events. The opening ceremony was a night full of speeches, performances and giveaways.

Asian Kaleidoscope Month (AKM) is a month-long celebration of Asian culture.  With the goal of spreading knowledge of Asian culture to the University of Florida, several events are held throughout the month, including a fashion show, scholarship pageant, and food festival.

“During Asian Kaleidoscope Month, we bring in speakers and famous headliners to the University of Florida to talk about their struggles and their obstacles as an Asian American,” said programming director Hannah Daduya. “I think that really influences the Asian community here. They can relate and it’s familiar to them, so it brings us together as a family, even though it’s a really diverse college.”

Carissa Chanrasmi sings “Omen” by Disclosure. Photo by Zachariah Chou

This year’s theme is Reflection. As AKM goes into its 25th year, its goal is to reflect on the past struggles and achievements of the Asian community while empowering a new generation of Asian Americans.

“We aim to reflect on how much our community has achieved, learn from all the obstacles our predecessors have overcome, and finally, grow in understanding and enable the younger generation to continue to fight for their passions,” said executive director Megan Wong.

To start off the 25th year of AKM, programming directors Ting Wang and Hannah Daduya organized the opening ceremony, themed “Epoch.” The word epoch is defined as “an event or a time marked by an event that begins a new period or development,” so Epoch marks the beginning of this year’s Asian Kaleidoscope Month.

Qiqi Chen stands after finishing her bow. Chen performed “One Summer’s Day” from the movie Spirited Away on piano. Photo by Zachariah Chou.

The opening ceremony started out with an introductory speech from executive director Megan Wong and assistant director Gina Nguyen. During this speech, Wong and Nguyen announced this year’s philanthropy: Give2Asia, a non-profit organization that serves as a liaison between donors and local organizations in Asia. There will be donation boxes for Give2Asia at every AKM event.

Throughout the night, there were raffles, giving away free gift cards for Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Beque Holic. The contestants of Mr. and Mrs. AASU were announced: Michael Marfori, Shreya Nirmalan, Trung Tran, Lauren Vu, Jed Rojas, Jamie Lo, Yoshiya Kushibiki, and Nina Cortes. There were also several performances from students.

Regina Tamayo sang Louis Armstrong’s “La Vie En Rose” while accompanying herself on the ukulele. Photo by Zachariah Chou.

The grand finale of the opening ceremony was a performance from David Choi, an Asian Youtube musician who has almost one million subscribers. He played his songs “Can’t Take This Away,” “That Girl,” “So Weightless,” “By My Side,” and “Missing Piece.” He also played a cover of Frank Sinatra’s song “The Way You Look Tonight.”

While playing his song “By My Side,” he asked two couples to come to the stage and slow dance, then gave the couples a copy of his album on vinyl. He also threw out copies of his CDs to the audience, after joking that no one in the audience knew what a CD is. After the ceremony, he held a meet and greet.

David Choi, the headliner for the event, does a Gator chomp. Photo by Zachariah Chou.

“It was really cool to see David Choi,” said second-year biology major Mariana Dajac.  “I have listened to some of his music before, so I was singing along.”

Before David Choi came to the stage, Daduya and Wang spoke about their experiences with planning this event.

“We actually didn’t know each other before being appointed programming directors, but we found out that we had the same major, classes, schedules, and cars,” Wang said. “We became close due to this being our first big event that we ever programmed.”
After months of planning the opening ceremony, Daduya and Wang’s hard work paid off.

“I thought it was really fun,” Dajac said. “There were a lot of great performances and it was nice to see different people showcase their talents.”

Featured image by Zachariah Chou.