UCSB’s Taiwanese American Student Association held its annual night market in Storke Plaza on May 6 to celebrate the cultures and foods of various Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations on campus.
The night market featured 19 food and beverage booths representing various campus organizations, such as Kapatirang Pilipino, Nikkei Student Union and Burmese Student Association. Local artists and cultural performances drew crowds of 1,000 beneath Storke Tower.
“I see it as a celebration of AAPI month,” Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA) Co-President and fourth-year pharmacology major Sam Chen said. “We want to showcase different cultural performers. I’m really proud that we got this through … All of [the performances] feature a section of Isla Vista or Asian culture. We try to make it as diverse as possible.”
This was the first year since the COVID-19 pandemic that TASA was able to hold the night market in Storke Plaza. After navigating the logistical processes to make the event happen, Chen said he was glad TASA was able to return the night market to the plaza and attract a large turnout.
“I didn’t expect this many people. I really did not. [I know] coming on campus on a Saturday is weird, but I’m glad that people are actually taking time out of their day to celebrate.”
Second-year sociology major Vanessa Ocampo, who worked at the Kapatirang Pilipino stand that served adobo rice bowls, said she valued connecting with both her own club and other clubs throughout the event.
“We’re embracing all cultures here. We’re here to immerse ourselves in other people’s cultures and lifestyles to support each other as an Asian community at a PWI [Predominantly White Institution],” Ocampo said.
TASA Co-Activities Chair and second year biopsychology major Charliene Lien said she believes that the event embodies TASA’s spirit of inclusivity.
“Our slogan, in a sense, is that we’re Taiwanese-American, but you don’t have to be Taiwanese or American to join,” Lien said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are. For me, the club is about a bunch of people together to learn more about Taiwan and be friends.”
According to TASA Vice President and third-year biopsychology and pharmacology double major Andrew Cheng, administrative obstacles made it difficult for TASA to hold the event.
“It is difficult for Asian organizations to maintain good reputations with the school. There might be bias [from me] there. I don’t want to accuse them of anything. That’s just what we have observed,” Cheng said. “What we were trying to accomplish today is creating a future for these types of events. The impact [of the night market] is that we have more opportunities to celebrate our culture and put on more food events.”
Despite the complicated process of preparing the event, TASA’s night market was popular among a wide variety of UCSB clubs. The ticket lines remained long for almost all of the three hours that the market was held. Chen said he is proud of the event and its significance for the community.
“It’s a culmination of everything that I have experienced here at UCSB as a Taiwanese American,” Chen said. “The hard struggles and the good things that came out of it. It’s my ultimate goodbye to UCSB.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the May 11, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.
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