Asian Pacific Student Program debuts center with Lunar New Year celebration

APSP_02_29_2024_ China_Booth
China Booth Showcasers – Michael Sheen, Michelle Sheen, Raphael Sheen, Suzune Ikeda, Photo by Mayela Cazares / El Don

The Asian Pacific Student Program celebrated a special event for many Asian cultures, the Lunar New Year, by welcoming about 250 SAC students to its new center on Thursday.

The event started with traditional dragon and lion dancing in the SAC amphitheater which led attendees to VL-107 where APSP board members and student volunteers invited participants to browse through different stations that represented various Asian countries. 

Attendees, including representatives from the Taiwanese consulate in Los Angeles, munched on mochi, White Rabbit candy, honeycomb, rice puffs and other Asian snacks and delicacies, such as pork egg rolls from Vietnam as they strolled around. The center was adorned with paper flowers lining the room, a paper dragon strewn from the ceiling, as well as vibrant poster boards that showcased various countries’ native flags, languages and other aspects of their cultures. 

“Our goal is to create a sense of belonging and assist students in their long-term academic career,” said APSP coordinator Alexandria Pan. “We want to create a home away from home.” Photo by Mayela Cazares / El Don

“I love how they shared their culture with us, and I was able to learn stuff that I did not know,” said student Jesus Garcia. “I’ll definitely tell my friends about future events.”

The center also hosted arts and crafts activities and allowed participants to play diabolo, a Chinese yo-yo. Yunnori, a Korean stick game, was demonstrated as well.

APSP is a cultural affinity center that supports API students with services such as mental health and career workshops, counseling, financial aid and more. As of the 2022-2023 academic year, 1 in 10 students represent the Asian demographic at SAC. 

2024 Lunar New Year is the year of the Dragon. Photo by Mayela Cazares / El Don

“I believe APSP will impact students very similarly to the way that other affinity centers like U2 scholars and Undocu-scholars do,” said David Rehm, communications professor and APSP board advisory member. “It’s really about recognizing and celebrating our diversity and letting students know that we see you and we are here for you.”

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The center’s establishment was due to the college’s growing Asian student population. APSP was launched in 2022 but was not able to expand due to lack of staffing; however, after SAC was recognized as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, APSP was able to secure a $1.875 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s AANAPISI Program.

The grant will help fund staff, peer mentors, remodeling, food, programs, career workshops and other logistical support. 

“Our goal is to create a sense of belonging and assist students in their long-term academic career,” said APSP coordinator Alexandria Pan. “We want to create a home away from home.”

APSP advertises its events via faculty members and social media such as Instagram. With Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month coming up in May, APSP board members plan to host more events to promote their program and to continue celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. 

“It feels like the school is welcoming us,” said Japanese International student Suzune Ikede. “I have never had an experience where a school dedicates a space designated for Asian students.”

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