For the first time ever, the Southeast Asian Student’s Association (SEASA) is hosting SEAFest (Southeast Asian Fest), an immersive evening that introduces Vassar students to Southeast Asian culture. And what an introduction it will be. The event schedule is full of lively activities including Southeast Asian parlor games, dance, cuisine, and arts and crafts. The all-important cherry topping is education, which is the primary goal of the event as the SEASA continues to do their utmost to bring their unique experiences and culture to Vassar Students.
SEAFest will take place on April 15, 2016, from 6 to 8 p.m. “SEAFest is a Southeast Asian festival where we will try to represent Southeast Asian culture through crafts, games, dancing and food,” said SEASA President Kryzel Bonifacio ’17.
This immersive evening will have food from all countries of Southeast Asia that showcase its diversity and intricate local culture. “We will have food from Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam as well as a deep frying station that is very common at Southeast Asian night markets which is representative of Southeast Asian street food. The deep-frying station will have vegetables and even bananas, which is very typical of local Southeast Asian night markets and street food,” SEASA Vice President Jasmine Martinez ’18 said.
She added, “So the whole process is that we’ll have a dinner with both homemade and catered food as well as a spring roll station where people can make their own Vietnamese spring rolls.” Some of the various dishes include Pad Thai, Thai iced tea, Lumpia (Spring rolls), Kare Kare (Filipino stew) and Laksa.
In addition to food, SEAFest will also have an arts and crafts section, where students have the opportunity to learn more about the artisan and craft skills of Southeast Asian culture and even recreate a traditional Thai Festival. “We’ve been preparing for this event a lot over this semester. For the last two SEASA meetings we’ve been making cute little accessories for the photo booth we have for the event like posters and photo frames of landmarks and slang that’s famous in Southeast Asia. Hopefully, students will have some fun with this, and they can pretend they’re actually in Southeast Asia. We want to make it as immersive as possible,” SEASA’s publicity and Community Liaison Nicole Yaw ’18 explained.
The association has chosen crafts that are immediately engaging such as paper lanterns to immerse participants in the experience. “We’ve also been making lanterns that we plan to hang up around the event space and these are really easy to make and it’s what people can make at our crafts booth. We’ll be making lanterns at the end of the event and hanging them on lights, which is a ceremonial process that’s similar to the Thai lantern festival where they have big lanterns that light up and float off in the sky. So we’re planning to have a little mini lantern festival,” said Yaw. While the Thai lantern festival is a traditional festival celebrated annually in Thailand, SEASA has recreated this in their own unique style to allow Vassar students to take part in the festivities.
In addition to food and photo booths, SEASA is going above and beyond to enrich Vassar with as much Southeast Asian culture as it can. SEASA Secretary Michael Kim ’17 said, “So there will be four different booths and one dancing station so people can come and deep fry stuff, make spring rolls, make lanterns and so on. We’ll also have an array of Southeast Asian games like hacky sack or Jianzi and Sungkah that are very common and traditionally from Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines.”
He went on to explain the range of games and activities at the festival. “Sungkah is a traditional Filipino game and Jianzi is a traditional Southeast Asian game where players use a weighted shuttlecock and have to keep this is in the air without using their hands and are only allowed to use other parts of their bodies. We will also have a dance station where we’ll be doing demos of a Philippines traditional dance called Tinikling where people can learn how to dance.” Tinikling, Kim explained, is a dance performed between bamboo poles.
While for the most part, the hosts believe SEAFest should be successful, there are always trials and tribulations when hosting an event never before seen on Vassar’s campus, not to mention the pressure that comes with it.
“We’ve never thrown this event before. It’s our first time. This is Vassar’s very first SEAFest. This is our big event for this semester and we really hope that a lot of people will come, participate and have fun,” said Yaw.
SEASA has taken great effort and preparation to bring SEAFest about, with many intricate, novel ways to keep Vassar students entertained and excited, as well as simultaneously introducing and educating them to the culture and diversity of Southeast Asia. Given the variety and novelty of the experiences offered, SEASA is confident it will be a success.
As Bonifacio said, “We love our culture and hope to bring it to Vassar in any way possible. SEAFest is the way we want to do it, hopefully in a big way.”