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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

UNCP celebrates Asia Day 2009 with large crowds

The 5th annual Asia Day on November 18 featured more food, more entertainment and record-breaking attendance of more than 350 inside the University Center Annex at UNC Pembroke.

Tai Chi demonstration – Not in order: Xin Li, Hao Zhang, Sulong Wu, Siming Zheng, Haibei Wang, Xian Zhang, Bing Wang and Yongchen Lei

Tai Chi demonstration – Not in order: Xin Li, Hao Zhang, Sulong Wu, Siming Zheng, Haibei Wang, Xian Zhang, Bing Wang and Yongchen Lei

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While the crowd sampled specialties like mussels and fried dumplings, which were provided by six local restaurants, UNCP’s Asian student contingent provided a mix of traditional and modern entertain- ment.

The theme of Asia Day 2009 was “Cultural Understanding through Education.”

Asked what he has learned about culture, Student Government Association President Arjay Quizon, who was born in the Philippines and moved to North Carolina only two years ago, offered this wisdom.

Katate! – Sangwoong Jeon goes high as Randall Williams and Gerame Allison hold on.

Katate! – Sangwoong Jeon goes high as Randall Williams and Gerame Allison hold on.

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“Here, it’s about being able to mingle with Americans,” Quizon said. “Be open to it; if you’re closed minded, you will not learn a single thing.”

Some of the entertainments featured international and U.S. students performing together. Christy Herring, a senior from Wilmington, N.C., performed in a percussion group and danced with the “Wonder Girls.”

“I joined the group through mutual connections,” Herring said. “It was great fun, and I was so excited and nervous.”

Fellow percussionist and Wonder Girl Fenghua Guo took a minute between performances to explain the performance, which featured plastic water jugs, stomping feet and a little hand jive.

“We had never done this before,” Guo said. “This is not very common in China, so we invited others to join us.”

Herring and Alexandria Watson of Charlotte, N.C., discussed their trip to South Korea, China and Japan last summer. They have connected with Asia.

Philippine culture on display – From left: Renisse Trillana, Pamela Quison and Chrstine Estigoy

Philippine culture on display – From left: Renisse Trillana, Pamela Quison and Chrstine Estigoy

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“We spent four weeks in Korea, four days in China and two days in an airport in Japan,” Watson said. “It’s a life changing experience where you learn as much about yourself as you do about another culture.

“At the Great Wall, we spent a lot of time posing for pictures with Chinese people who had never seen an African American before,” Watson said.

Herring chipped in: “In a restaurant, a lady handed me her baby and took our picture. And yes, they wanted to touch our hair.”

Dr. Andy and Mary Ash of the Biology Department were featured speakers and discussed their recent visit to China.

“China today is a mix of old and new and has a world culture on display too,” Dr. Ash said. “International travel changes lives.”

Asia day is organized and performed by international students and the Office for International Programs, which coordinates students’ international study.

Winter Sonata – Renisse Trillana and Changkyun Yoo perform a romance of the snowmen.

Winter Sonata Renisse Trillana and Changkyun Yoo perform a romance of the snowmen.

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There were new entertainments, such as “Bamboo Folk Traditional Dance,” a Philippine dance form, a Japanese vocal performance, Tai Chi and other martial arts. Calligraphy, knot tying and paper cutting exhibits were displayed.

Sara Brackin, director of International Programs, called the event “a great opportunity for our students to learn and appreciate different cultures.”

“We hope that the interest in other cultures will encourage our local students to study abroad,” she said.

International Programs may be contacted at 910.775.4095 or email ip@uncp.edu.

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