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Celebrating Asian heritage at Brandeis: the Brandeis Asian American Students Association

The Brandeis Asian American Students Association (BAASA) stands as a tight-knit cultural hub on campus, celebrating Asian heritage and fostering a strong sense of community among its members. Founded with the mission of promoting cultural awareness and unity, BAASA offers a platform for students to connect, share experiences and explore the rich tapestry of Asian cultures. According to Mike Wu ’24, the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) coordinator for BAASA this year, “BAASA is a culture club, so we celebrate Asian culture in all its forms.” Wu emphasizes that BAASA welcomes everyone who shares an interest in Asian culture, creating an inclusive environment where students from diverse backgrounds can come together and connect.

At the core of BAASA’s activities is a commitment to celebrating diversity through various events and initiatives. From cultural shows to other festive gatherings, BAASA offers students the chance to engage deeply with Asian cultural traditions, customs and cuisines, while also providing opportunities for casual enjoyment and celebration.

Most recently on March 2, BAASA held one of their major annual events: The APAHM cultural show. While Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated in May, the club celebrates it in March. The mission of this cultural show is to pay homage to the rich heritage and contributions of Asian-Pacific Americans. For the cultural show, BAASA invites several Asian performers, including some from Brandeis and others from various locations, to showcase and honor their rich cultural heritage. They also serve food and beverages from local restaurants and boba shops, providing a diverse array of offerings to the attendees.

According to Stina Mei ’26, BAASA’s videographer and photographer, the APAHM cultural show “is a good way to put our voices and stories to the forefront, and we can celebrate it for other students to come and see.” Similarly, John Mauro ’25, the outreach coordinator, highlights the camaraderie forged through the event, noting, “There’s a great sense of accomplishment when you plan and execute a successful event for your community that you’re really passionate about.”

The theme: “Reflections,” and the event as a whole was coordinated by Wu and Layla Hay ’25. “Reflections” offers an opportunity for introspection and celebration of the member’s journey from both an individual and a club standpoint. Wu, as one of the APAHM coordinators this year, explains: “‘Reflections’ allows us to look back on our history and see how far we’ve come.” Wu also adds that the theme is “rooted in activism and creating a safe space and community for Asian students. ‘Reflections’ wants us to look at that so we can honor our roots as a club in that sense moving forward. We can include more activism and those types of activities.” At the heart of the event, Wu emphasizes the importance of honoring their shared history while paving the way for future activism and community-building initiatives for the club to come.

For many members, the sense of community fostered by BAASA is a defining aspect of their college experience. “It’s my favorite part about being in BAASA. It’s a great community that I have, away from home,” Mei reflects. Also, in the words of Anusha Koshe ’26, one of the digital media chairs for BAASA, “The club is a really great community for me. I’ve met a lot of my friends there, and it’s a place where I feel like I belong.” Indeed, BAASA exemplifies the power of community to inspire, support and uplift its members as they navigate their college journey and beyond. “I really enjoyed planning and working with APAHM too, just because I think a lot of the planning process allowed me to bond more with the E-board members and get closer with them,” Koshe adds.

As the club reflects on its journey, Mauro and Wu acknowledge the evolving dynamics within BAASA and the importance of transitioning leadership roles. Mauro recognizes the significant contributions of the seniors in “anchoring the club with their wisdom and leadership,” but he also highlights the need for newer, younger members to step forward and fill those roles as seniors graduate. As a senior, Wu echoes this sentiment, noting that the theme of “reflections” has sparked enthusiasm among younger members, who are particularly passionate about community-driven events and activism. Their perspectives underscore the collaboration and succession planning vital for ensuring the continuity and vibrancy of BAASA’s mission as it moves into the future.

Looking ahead, BAASA continues to welcome prospective students eager to join its community. BAASA holds several G-board events throughout the semester, usually every few months, which is the biggest way new members get involved. Additionally, BAASA’s magazine connections offer another avenue for students to engage with the club and to explore their interests. That is exactly how Mauro got involved in his junior year. Mauro shared that he “became more interested in BAASA because as a sophomore I joined the literary magazine and then at the end, I thought it was cool and thought that I should run for an E-Board spot next year.”

Looking ahead, BAASA is preparing for APAHM Closing scheduled for March 31, and a Connections lunch party on April 5, further solidifying the club’s commitment to fostering celebration, community and activism on the Brandeis campus and beyond. For more information on these events, look to their Instagram and Facebook pages.

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