LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — While it still has some weeks before it welcomes students again, the Ware Center in Lancaster will be hosting a one-of-a-kind Asian Culture Celebration. The celebration is a part of We The People First Fridays.
The aim of the monthly event is to showcase a variety of art from groups of people who may be ignored or forgotten. “We The People is our monthly First Friday program featuring both the performing and visual art of people from the full spectrum of American society, with special emphasis on those who are all too often marginalized and under-represented in the arts, including members of the BIPOC, LGBTQ, and disabled communities,” Assistant Director of Campus and Community Engagement, Barry Kornhauser said.
The event comes at a critical time, with many Asians and Asian-Americans still feeling the effect of heightened racism since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The recent rise of discrimination against Asians and Asian-Americans is the principal reason that we felt it was important to host this event at this particular time, to counterbalance the incidents of hate our country has experienced by demonstrating that there is so much to be cherished and appreciated in the Asian cultures that enrich our nation,” Kornhauser said. “This evening is meant to celebrate just that!”
There’s only so much the Ware Center can fit in two hours, but the Asian Culture Celebration will have a variety of showcases. Chen-Yu Tsuei will have a dance troupe performing with traditional Chinese music. Lancaster dancers Hong Dong and Sophie Xiong will also present two dances of their own before Asyusha Chapagai and Aashika Ashikari from the Pennsylvania Migrant Education Program perform a traditional dance from their Nepali culture. It will all wrap up with Cambodian-American Sonii Bora presenting a spoken-word piece on Anti-Asian hate.
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Bora is a first-generation American as his parents are immigrants. Bora’s spoken-word piece comes with a heavy heart after witnessing his parents become victims of hate, something that sadly, isn’t new. “Asian hate isn’t something that just arrived, it’s just being noticed even more now,” Bora said. So Bora is using their art in a form of poetry. Without revealing too much, Bora described it as “the journey of navigating through the world as an Asian-American.” A journey that many others on the Ware Center stage are familiar with which excites Bora. “It’s definitely a high honor but it’s also a privilege. It’s heartwarming to share these similar experiences with the community,” Bora said.
Plenty of visual art will be on display as well, including traditional calligraphy and water paintings by Diana Meng along with pieces of art from Hong Dong and other Lancaster-based Asian visual artists. Traditional Chinese puppetry on loan from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Offices in Washington D.C. and New York City will be a part of the exhibit as well as crafting tables for people to make their own Chinese lanterns to take home.
To ensure everyone is included in the celebrations, the event is free of charge and open to all. “Like all of our First Friday We The People events, this is a program that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and from all backgrounds and walks of life. The main reason these presentations are free is so that no one is prevented from coming for financial reasons, perhaps all the more important in this pandemic year in which so many families faced economic uncertainties. No tickets are necessary; just come in and celebrate!” Kornhauser said.