In search of more cultural representation at Millersville University, students have formed a club that celebrates Asian culture and heritage. The Asian Student Inclusivity Association, or A.S.I.A., was established in Fall 2019 and is now beginning their soft launch in the Spring 2020 semester. Starting next semester, they will be a full organization under the Intercultural Center.
Lia Toigo, the current president of A.S.I.A., explains the basis of the club, “We’re called the Asian Student Inclusivity Association, because we invite Asian students, Pacific Islanders, and supporters of that community to come learn about the different cultures of Asia, celebrate the holidays, and just hang out and have fun.”
A noticeable lack of representation for Asian American and Pacific Islander students on MU’s campus started the establishment of the club. “Last year with the multicultural organizations and some of the other cultural events, Asia was left out along with some of the other countries. We just wanted to see what people thought about that. Also, we noticed that there wasn’t an Asian organization, at least for the past three years, so we wanted to start a new one,” Toigo explains.
Mei Ka Reichard, founder of the club, sent out a Google forms survey in response to this, asking ques- tions regarding what students thought. As a follow up, she started working with the Intercultural Center and SGA to form the club. Toigo then took over as president.
Although A.S.I.A is just taking off, they already have 50 to 60 group members, many of which came from the previous survey that circulated. They have also participated in multiple events like MU’s Multicultural Showcase and Org Outbreak.
The Asian Student Inclusivity Association’s president touches on joining the college club, “We definitely want to get more people joining, because I think a lot of people think that we’re strictly an Asian organization, just for Asian students, but we’re open to everyone. We want more people to join, whether you’re Asian or just a supporter.”
The original name for the club was the Asian Students in America, but they decided to change the name and open the title up to make it more welcoming to non Asian students. Anyone is welcome to come and learn about different cultures.
They want to bridge the gap between international students and people who think that they can’t join the club. Toigo believes this would open the door to more understanding between cultures. “Some of us in the A.S.I.A. club have experienced some form of micro-aggression, so in this way, we can educate people then also say what is appropriate and what’s not appropriate. Another event that we’re looking to have is a talk about micro-aggression.”
Word of their club is being spread through Asian-themed fundraisers. On January 27, A.S.I.A. held a dumpling sale to help their savings. They made chicken and pork dumplings, along with chicken, pork, and vegetable momos. The sale was so popular that they sold out in less than an hour.
The recipes for the dumplings came from club members, some of who are part of the College Assistance Migrant Program. There are also some students who grew up in a bilingual household, so they had personal recipes from their families. The Asian Student Inclusivity Association plans on having an- other dumpling sale on Thursday, March 5.
Another Asian-themed fundraiser will be taking place on campus in the Student Memorial Center on Wednesday, February 12 for Valentine’s Day. A.S.I.A. will be selling handmade origami bouquets of flowers along with origami boxes of Pocky. Coming up, there will also be a lantern festival social and they are looking to celebrate Holi, a spring Hindu holiday.
Lia Toigo is happy with where the club is right now. “I’m actually impressed by how far we’ve come, because considering we only had about 10 people that really started the organization in the fall, and now we have 50-60 people looking to come to events and help, it’s honestly amazing,” she illustrates.
Clubs like the Asian Student Inclusivity Association celebrates diversity and allows all students to feel represented on campus. Although, they are just setting off, A.S.I.A. continues to grow as more students see the importance of cultural representation.