Asian Student Union Kicks Off Another Year


Hannah Hesseltine

Natsume Ono (left), Jasmine Chang (middle), and Franny MeLampy (right) enjoy lunch together at ASU.

Excited faces welcomed Lydia Krienke as she walked into Judith DeWoskin’s classroom for Asian Student Union’s (ASU’s) first official meeting on Monday, Sept. 16. As members continued to arrive, the friendly atmosphere grew into an exuberant celebration of all things Asian.

Although ASU focuses on Asian culture, anyone is welcome. Members include Asian students, students who have Asian friends, and students who want to be Asian. Together, they do a variety of activities, including attending local Japanese festivals, observing Asian holidays, watching movies filmed in Asian countries, and enjoying Asian food that members make and bring to meetings.

“I think sharing different foods and experiences with people from all different parts of Asia and people who just want to be involved with Asian things, even if they’re not Asian [is the best part of ASU],” senior and ASU Vice President, Franny MeLampy, said.

ASU began in the fall of 2010 when senior Sanako Fuijioka expressed interest in its creation to DeWoskin, her Forum leader and English teacher. Although DeWoskin has traveled to several Asian countries, she is mainly connected to China; her husband majored in Chinese at Columbia University in New York and has been traveling to China since the 1970s. DeWoskin accompanied him there for the first time in the 1980’s and now tries to go back every year. Because of her history with Asia, DeWoskin has led ASU since its birth. Today, senior Kanako Fujioka helps head the group with DeWoskin, following in her sister’s footsteps by serving as the president of ASU.

“I was kind of surprised by how much I could relate to other Asian students, and it’s just nice having people you can talk to about certain issues and experiences not all people have,” Fujioka said about her time running ASU.

Unfortunately, ASU has faced some hardship when recruiting students to join their club. “I think recruiting people and making people think that it’s really fun [is the biggest challenge we face],” MeLampy said. “When we all get together and we’re all talking, we all have such a great time. We just want to draw people in so we have a bigger club and bigger community.”

Luckily, veteran members of ASU have been persistent in their mission to find new members. “Sometimes we’ll just walk up to random people, especially if they’re Asian and be like ‘Hey, you should come to ASU!’” senior Christina Chang said.

Everyone in ASU found their way to be Asian, ranging from playing in jazz band with Asian friends, to having distant Asian relatives, or to being 100 percent Asian.

“It’s fun because Asian culture is actually super diverse, so even if you are Asian yourself, you still learn something new every meeting, which is why you don’t have to be Asian to join ASU,” Fujioka said. “Honestly, it’s really cool that people who aren’t Asian are so enthusiastic about learning about Asian culture!”

ASU meets every Monday in DeWoskin’s room, room 303, during lunch.