Red lanterns hung from the balconies at the ASA’s Asian Night Market event in the College Center this past Saturday. The smell of fresh food coated the College Center, which had been decorated to resemble an actual Night Market, as students from various orgs garbed in traditional clothing from the countries sold food they had cooked.
Cindy Liu ’16, President of ASA, said that the night market strove to share the culture of Asian night markets with Vassar students. “We wanted just to recreate night markets from Asia, because this isn’t the kind of thing that you usually experience in the US.”
Liu added that the night market did more than just spread Asian culture. “We also just want to kind of bring together a lot of the orgs on campus to do an event together,” she added.
Asian Students Alliance collaborated with LINK, Black Students Union (BSU), Caribbean Students Alliance, Movimento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan, Poder Latin@, South Asian Students Alliance, Southeast Asian Students Alliance Unitarian University, Vassar International Students Association, Vassar Sori, Contrast and Multiracial-Biracial Students Association to put together the night market. Each org had a table with handmade food available for a certain number of tickets.
The ticket system, Liu said, was similar to the system of the real night markets.
“In Asia, when they have night markets like this, it’s usually kind of a carnival system, not a cash system,” Liu said. “So the tickets were just to keep to the authenticity of it.”
Cindy Wang ’16, another member of ASA, added, “It’s also more convenient, so it’s a common system and no one has to worry about giving change. This is a collaboration between a lot of different orgs, so we would have to keep checking the money and everything.”
ASA sought to create an experience as similar to the real thing as they could.
“Typically, for night markets, it isn’t all about food, there is more equal balance of clothes and random items with food, but of course it is hard to find orgs to table that kind of stuff,” Liu said. “Also, Night Markets are typically outdoors as well, but since most of the orgs need outlets for the food, the College Center works better as a location,”
In consideration of the varieties of food available at the event, the ASA wanted to make it easier for students to find what they wanted to eat. “This year we also asked the orgs to print out pictures and descriptions of their food so that everyone can have more experience about the food they are eating,” said Liu.
A lot of work goes into creating the night market. Wang said that working to put together the Asian Night Market more than once a year would be more work than she thinks they could handle, considering all the food that has to be prepared and orgs to be coordinated.
Some orgs had to start making food the day before while others worked tirelessly in the hours leading up to the night market.
Storm Vonhundley ’17 was serving food at the BSU table. “It’s a lot of dedication,” Vonhundley said, “It takes about five hours to make all the food, and we have a really dedicated exec board who helps us a lot.”
BSU has been a part of the night market for several years. “We’ve been doing this for previous years,” said Vonhundley. “It’s been a really fun experience, sold out all years.”
The night market had a wide array of food, featuring, among others, Indian, Latin American and Chinese, and most of the tables had vegetarian options. At ASA’s table, there were dubboki, fried rice, dumplings, green tea mousse and rice pudding. LiNK had steamed buns, ramen, blue lemonade and chocopies.
In addition, MeCHA’s table had platanos fritos, conchas, tres leches cake and horchata. MBSA had scallion potato pancakes and carrot cake. Vassar Sori-Kimchi’s table had fried rice, butternut squash and yogurt drinks.
The event, Vonhundley said, is a great way for the different orgs on campus to collaborate. “It’s been a lot of solidarity between different groups coming together with food,” she said.
Wendy Liu ‘17 worked at several different booths during the Night Market, and was able to observe how the night went. “I worked at the ticketing booth and the ASA booth, so I was able to see the action going on firsthand since we kept running out of tickets to sell!” said Wendy Liu.
She added, “Working with all the other orgs, particularly the ALANA orgs, was really amazing.” She went on to agree that there was a definite solidarity between the orgs working the event. “Night Market brings orgs together to participate in a cultural experience that is very dear to me, and for once, it really felt like a tight-knit community.”
Amanda Ma ’17 is a member of ASA who was at the event, and was happy to get a good meal at a low price.
“I think the food was pretty good at ASA, I didn’t eat everything, but what I ate was good and sold at a really awesome price.” said Ma. “I went because I wanted to see and eat the food by all the other organizations, and it was awesome because I could have a lot of good food without having to go to the Deece.” She added, “I had a really full dinner for about five dollars.”
Kayla Fisher ’17 was also tabling for BSU. “We just had a really successful time last year,” She said. She added that the support from the community also makes the night market an exciting experience. “It’s a great event, it’s a lot of fun. It’s really cool to see people from across campus come out to support everyone, rather than it just being between the orgs.”
Ma agreed that having a lot of people to support the night market was a bonus. “The turnout was awesome, I think all the organizations sold out all of their food and there were a ton of people that showed up, which is great.”