The Brandeis Asian American Students Association (BAASA) hosted an opening performance for Asian and Pacific Islander History Month (APAHM) on Saturday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m. in Levin Ballroom. APAHM is typically celebrated in May, but BAASA has been celebrating in March so as not to conflict with finals, BAASA members explained during the performance.
The theme of this year’s APAHM opening was “Breaking the Cycle,” which focuses on “addressing and breaking cycles of stereotypes and intergenerational trauma in the AAPI community,” according to BAASA’s Instagram. Sahithi Macharla ’23, BAASA’s Co-Social Justice Chair, explained in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot that BAASA chose the theme of breaking the cycle “in order to highlight the importance of our generation coming to terms with the impacts of traumatic events that our communities experienced and finding ways to communicate and heal collectively.”
The event featured performances by student groups as well as outside performers Hush Dance Crew, Hojean and Julian. Hush Dance Crew opened the show, followed by Brandeis dance groups including K-pop dance groups BLAH, Bloom and XL Girls, as well as Chak De, Brandeis’ Bollywood fusion dance team. Bentley University’s hip-hop dance group Momentum also performed. Other Brandeis student performances included Brandeis’ all-female a cappella group Up the Octave, students Hannah Park ’23 and Aditi Bhattacharya ’23, Natalie Omori-Hoffe ’25 (also known as HATSUKI), Chaomei Wang ’23 and a dance performance by members of BAASA’s E-Board.
During the show’s intermission, BAASA members handed out mochi donuts from Mister Monut in Waltham, and various dumplings and baos from Sichaun Gourmet House in Newton were offered after the show. Goodie bags including plastic clappers, BAASA and APAHM stickers and bracelets and glowsticks were placed on each chair in Levin prior to the opening of the doors, so audience members could use their clappers and glowsticks to show their support for each act during the performance.
The Hoot also spoke to Judy Ye ’24, APAHM’s Opening Coordinator, to find out more about the preparations that went into the event. When asked to describe the planning process, Ye explained that it “was challenging but rewarding. I personally grew and learned so much from planning such a big-scale event …. From finding the performers, to promoting the event, to setting up, I enjoyed every aspect of planning for APAHM!” She acknowledged that although BAASA encountered some obstacles during the planning process, “[f]rom budget constraints to logistical challenges,” they were ultimately able to “be resourceful and creative” to put on a successful show.
When asked how she felt the show went, Ye said, “I think the event went well overall. I am grateful for the turnout!” Macharla echoed this, saying “[I] think it went great! [I]t was a really great way to celebrate our accomplishments as a club and our community.”
Macharla went on to explain BAASA’s choice of charity to support through donations given during APAHM events: Massachusetts Asian and Pacific Islanders (MAP) for Health. She stated that “[w]hen searching for an organization to donate to we wanted to ensure that it was one that we could develop long lasting and deeper relationships with.” She described MAP for Health’s mission as helping “the Asian and Pacific Islander community of the area to access health services that may be inaccessible to them for a multitude of reasons,” but added that the organization “also advocates to break stigma around mental health in the Asian American community.” Macharla stated that BAASA was “particularly excited about their Asian Pride Program,” which “is a youth development and leadership program that provides services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) youth of Asian and Pacific Islander descent,” according to the MAP for Health website.
BAASA started fundraising for MAP for Health during the APAHM opening performance, and will continue accepting donations throughout the rest of the semester. The club raised around $300 during the opening event, according to Macharla, and hopes to raise more funds during their other two APAHM events, the SKIN fashion show and the APAHM closing event.
When asked about her goals for the rest of APAHM, Macharla explained that “as Social Justice Chairs Sophia [Wang ’23] and I intend on ensuring that everyone who participates in both SKINS and Closing is able to celebrate their identities and heritage all while exploring ways to heal with their community.”
Ye explained BAASA’s upcoming events, beginning with the SKIN Fashion Show, which will be held on March 19 in Sherman Function Hall. “SKIN is an annual fashion show hosted during BAASA’s month-long celebration of APAHM,” said Ye. “Featuring clothes designed by AAPIs [Asian American and Pacific Islander] and student models, the purpose of SKIN is to showcase and celebrate the creativity and success of Asian Americans in the fashion industry!”
Ye also teased APAHM’s closing event, “a MET Gala formal event with guest speaker Nealie Ngo, a medical student and illustrator for the graphic novel ‘Healing the Whole Family.’” During this event, participants will discuss this year’s APAHM theme, Breaking the Cycle.
BAASA is continuing to hold events even after their celebration of APAHM; they will hold a launch party for the spring 2023 edition of Connections literary magazine on April 28, according to Ye. Connections, which is BAASA’s literary and art magazine featuring Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), will have a theme this year of rebirth. At the April event, “various submissions will be showcased by the artists who created them,” explained Ye. “At this launch party we will celebrate and recognize the vulnerability and strength of the artists who share their voices …. Our hope is to create a space where writers and artists of varying backgrounds can come together to share their experiences and stories. Together, we can stand stronger. Our connections allow us to heal and move forward.”