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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Festival highlights Asian food, culture

Students will have the opportunity to sample Chinese and Indian food, learn about Asia-related student organizations, and participate in several Asian culture activities at 6 p.m. tonight on Woods Quad.

According to Steven Ramey, assistant professor of religious studies and director of Asian studies, many UA students are interested in Asian food, Chinese calligraphy, Japanese drumming and anime.

“I am constantly surprised at the amount of Asia-related activities happening on this campus, yet many students don’t know about them,” Ramey said.

For this reason, the Asian studies program is sponsoring its own mini Get On Board Day.

“Get On Board Day is so huge that students may miss the Asian groups,” Ramey said. “We wanted to build on [Get On Board Day], but make our kick-off event smaller and more interactive. There are more ways to get students involved than simply handing out fliers.”

Dubbed Sampling Asia, the event features several groups that will be represented in unconventional ways. For starters, the Japanese drum ensemble Nozomi Daiko will perform as a way to get students involved and to increase awareness about the group.

Laurie Arizumi, instructor of Japanese and leader of Nozomi Daiko, said she knew very little about Japanese “taiko” drumming before joining the ensemble in 2002.

“After Capstone International purchased the seven drums, Marco Lienhard, a world-famous taiko musician, led a workshop for those of us interested in learning how to play,” she said. “Having a degree in ethnomusicology, I was asked to participate and have been playing ever since.”

Most of the people in Nozomi Daiko are like Arizumi and know very little or nothing about drumming before joining, she said. After much practice, the group performs contemporary Japanese pieces as well works they write themselves.

In addition to listening to the taiko drummers, students will also be able to meet members of The Bama SOS Brigrade. The members of this group will surely not be overlooked, as they will be dressed up in their eye-catching Kami-Con costumes.

Connor McCarty, a sophomore majoring in international studies and co-vice president of The Bama SOS Brigade, said the group decided to dress in costume as an advertisement for one of their biggest events of the year, the annual anime convention called Kami-Con.

“Kami-Con is a great way to learn about contemporary Japanese culture,” McCarty said. “It mixes comics and film in a way that’s fun and informative, and we want more people to know about it.”

McCarty is also a member of the Japan Club and the Nozomi Daiko drum ensemble and will be one of the drummers performing at tonight’s event.

Throughout the fall semester, the Asian studies program will sponsor three different film series. The first is titled “Asian Football” and will showcase three entertaining but conversation-sparking movies, Ramey said.

“During the first film series, we’ll show things like ‘Bend It Like Beckham,’ movies that are entertaining and comedic but that also bring up issues about how Asians are represented,” he said. “After that, we’ll have a series called ‘Negotiating Authentic Buddhism’ and then a Bollywood series.”

“I see the importance of the study of Asia for several reasons. Much of the world’s economic growth is occurring in Asia. Our ties with Asia are increasing all the time. But it’s important to remember that we don’t always have to learn about Asia from a purely academic standpoint. There are other ways of learning about Asia, too, and Sampling Asia is an illustration of that.”

For more information about the Asian studies program and Asia-related activities, go to or check out the “Alabama Students Interested in Asia” Facebook group.

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