Drexel’s Southeast Asian student organizations hosted the second annual Southeast Asian Cultural Dinner May 18. This free event was held in Behrakis Grand Hall and featured a collection of cultural foods, music and performances. Although the majority of attendees were Drexel students, some students from other colleges also attended.
Joshua Robbins, president of Drexel’s International Student Union, emcee for the evening and a senior majoring in business and engineering, kicked off the event with a short introductory speech that announced the participating organizations: Drexel Thai Students Association, the Filipino Intercultural Society of Drexel University, the Vietnamese Students Association, the Indonesian Students Association, the Malaysian Students Association and the International Student Union.
Attendees were invited to visit booths set up by each organization. Volunteers from the six participating organizations served authentic, ethnic foods at stations displaying the national flag and information about the represented country. Perfecto Gallido, a member of FISDU and a junior biological sciences major, explained that he was serving pancit bihon, Filipino fried noodles, and lumpia, the FISDU’s version of egg rolls.
The INASA offered nasi goreng and beef rendang, and MSA provided dishes catered by the restaurant Banana Leaf. Ngoc “Lee” Duong, a VSA member and freshman majoring in economics and psychology, dished out summer rolls and sticky rice.
“We’re just here to promote our culture, bring out the Vietnamese student body and to have fun with everyone,” Duong said.
Zawir Onn, a member of MSA and sophomore chemical engineering major, shared similar sentiments.
“We’re just meeting up to meet new people and get the word out about Malaysian people,” Onn said.
The organizations’ stations featured other attractions as well. Chanakarn “Som” Horkaew, a member of DTSA and freshman majoring in nutritional sciences and foods, wrote out nametags in Thai, and Thant Mon Soe, a member of ISU and junior biomedical engineering, helped attendees try on a longyi, an item of traditional Myanmar clothing. Soe explained that the pleated wrap is called htamein for women and paso for men. Those who tried on the outfit were photographed and given a copy of the photo as a souvenir.
After visiting the booths, attendees returned to their tables to eat dinner while listening to a playlist of songs popular in each of the represented countries.
A variety of events followed dinner, including dances and video presentations. Members of INASA, costumed in grass skirts and feathered headbands, performed a sajojo dance. Members of FISDU followed with tinikling. This traditional Filipino dance form imitates the agile movements of the tikling bird. Performers wove through bamboo poles as the poles were repeatedly clapped together and apart. In the final moments of the dance, the performers maneuvered between crossed pairs of these bamboo traps while blindfolded.
Attendees were given the opportunity to win prizes during the dinner in a trivia game centered on Southeast Asian culture and in a free iPad giveaway sponsored by the new app Intreest.
Indra Senihardja, president of INASA and a junior business administration major, reflected on the preparation that led up to the event, praising its collaborative qualities.
The event shared the culture of countries involved in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations free-trade agreement. A member of the INASA said the agreement allows citizens of those nations to travel through the 10 member countries without a visa.
The event was brought to fruition when the six organizations came together to plan and set up.
Senihardja explained the unifying goal of the dinner, “The idea is, we want to know every culture; we want to enrich diversity in Drexel University. This is why we are here today.”