Asian American students celebrate the end of AAPI month through a market promoting Asian American businesses
We are wrapping up Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month. At DePaul, APIDA (Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American) is the group that represents and creates a space for all Asian American students. They host events from time to time, like board game nights, talks, discussions, workshops and more. For AAPI month specifically, APIDA hosted many events, which students could register for on DeHub. On May 15, APIDA celebrated AAPI month by hosting a Night Market, where they invited Asian American vendors to sell their products or services and promote their small businesses.
The Night Market went from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and was located on the Quad in DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. All students were invited, and attendees could purchase food, clothes, accessories and more. There were people doing tarot card readings, henna tattoos, and biryani (a Pakistani dish), mochi donuts, candles, jewelry, clothes and much more were being sold.
Sam Schubert, an academic advisor in the office for academic advising support, had come out to the event to represent Elevate, a faculty and staff group at DePaul. “We came to promote some of our events that are coming up,” she explained. “But also, to be able to show that there are faculty and staff that are also Asian and Asian American.” Elevate is the professional community for Asian and Asian American faculty at DePaul, and works to empower the Asian American community, as well as giving them a space to create and raise their voices for everyone to be heard. Schubert is currently the treasurer of Elevate. Tagging along with Schubert was Maria Hench, a content editor and producer in the Office of University Marketing and Communications.
“I think it’s great for students to see faculty and staff that share the same background,” Hench said. “We are just here tabling to let them know that we are here, too.”
Hench and Schubert were at the table throughout the event giving students a chance to play a game, where students pulled a lollipop from a bunch of lollipops, and winners were supposed to pick a lollipop that had a red dot on the bottom. Winners were being offered a cupcake.
Other than organizations at DePaul, there were also vendors who were selling their products, food and services from their small businesses to spread awareness and let students know that they can support Asian and Asian American small businesses. One of these vendors was Sandy Wong, the owner of the Lincoln Park location of Mochinut. Because the store is so close to DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, Wong decided it was a good idea to attend as a vendor when APIDA asked.
“I grew up in a Chinese restaurant because my parents had owned a carryout shop in the Southwest suburbs, and just watching them come here… and open that restaurant up right away,” Wong recalled. “Not knowing anybody, and not really knowing the language at all and you see hard work, especially with me being first generation American. I think now representing in that way and making sure people understand that there are so many different cultures to learn a little about each culture and how different every different culture is.” Wong was selling mochi donuts and bubble tea to attendees who were willing to buy.
Similar to Wong, Brettlyn Pascual, a sophomore studying biochemistry at DePaul, was tabling at the event for her small jewelry business.
“I just heard about it on the APIDA DePaul Instagram, and I chose to be a part of it to really connect with other members of the community and see what other people my age have to offer,” Pascual said. “I think it’s really important to really get representation.”
AAPI month serves as a very important reminder that Asian American lives matter and should be acknowledged. Many Asian Americans are immigrants who often have had to work harder to get to where they are, and that hard work should be rewarded.
“I think it’s a great month to recognize our culture, our heritage, and what we bring to the Americas and just to celebrate just how diverse we are within the Asian and Asian American community,” Hench explained. “I just hope that at the very least that students see that there are faculty and staff who share the same background and that they feel like that they can come to us along the way.”
Another reason AAPI month is so important is for people to see the different Asian and Asian American-owned small businesses who work very hard to bring their culture to people who come from the same places as well as sharing their culture to people from other cultures.
“There are so many different vendors, and each vendor has kind of their own mission and their own values,” Wong said. “But also, how similar we all are in terms of just being so passionate about family, friends, representing our cultures, and just being heard and understood.”
“I think it’s really important to look back at the significance of our cultures and the histories we share and where we come from,” Masuma Taqvi, a junior at DePaul, said. “I think it kind of shapes us as who we are and it reminds us of our roots and what kind of sacrifices led to where we are right now today.” Taqvi was at the event as a vendor, representing her small candle business, as well as working the henna stand at the event.
“They were looking for henna artists, so I reached out to them and said that I know how to do henna,” she said.
“What I am going to take away is the beauty of how when cultures combine and they come together, it’s a very nice way of sharing what you bring to the table with each other,” Taqvi said. “What I would like to share is that it is important to be open to other cultures and to other communities because it helps you learn and understand people better. It also helps you take away something that you might not know and something that you might like and might want to share with other people.”
Many students who attended were part of the Asian and Asian American community, but there were also many students who attended to learn more about the different cultures that Asia has to offer. One of these students who attended was Jasmine Robinson, a sophomore at DePaul.
“I chose to attend so that I can learn more about it and kind of experience the different cultural centers because I have been in the Black cultural center for events and the Latinx cultural center, so I kind of just wanted to learn more about different cultures,” Robinson said.
Robinson was one of the many volunteers at the event who chose to donate their time and effort to the cause. “I love volunteering, I love giving service, and I also just love helping everyone and just connecting with more people at DePaul.”
DePaul is a diverse school that gives students a platform and space to feel comfortable, where students can share their culture with everyone.
“Representation is very important, especially at DePaul. I really love the diversity here and it is very awesome to see a lot of people here that are part of the AAPI group,” Pascual said.
Moving forward, as new students come into the DePaul community, we can see the growth of more and more diverse students who are bringing their experiences into DePaul.
Header Illustration by Yù Yù Zander