On Friday, Sept. 13th from 3-6 p.m., students attended the second annual Mid-Autumn Festival. Hosted by the Asian Students Association, Chinese Students Association, International Student Association and Sodexo in the Seegers Great Room, the event consisted of many activities done in tradition with the Mid-Autumn Festival, which takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month every year. The festival is observed in many Asian countries, such as China, Singapore and Vietnam, and is widely celebrated throughout the Asian community all over the world in the fall.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, celebrates the harvest moon being at its fullest and brightest, which symbolizes togetherness, reunion and happiness in the Asian culture. Therefore, another important aspect of this festival is expressing gratitude for family and the harvest by worshipping their gods and wishing for a fresh start for the remainder of the year. The festival has been celebrated for over 3,000 years and remains very popular today.
Vanessa Pham ‘21 recalls a fond memory of her childhood when celebrating the holiday while with her family. “We went to my grandparents’ house, gathered and ate a meal together,” Pham recounts with a smile.
At Muhlenberg, the Festival included different tables set up with refreshments, lantern-making and Chinese knot tying for attendees of the event. Some of the foods served included tea, mochi, a sweet, traditional Japanese rice cake and mooncakes, Chinese bakery treats popular during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Other foods commonly eaten during the festival include harvest foods, such as pumpkins.
Sara Bui ‘23 and Chau Dinh ‘23 of the Asian Students Association served mochi to guests at the event. The pair described how occasions like this help unite the Muhlenberg community and recognize all different types of students through education and conversation at campus events.
“We’re international students and wanted to contribute to and enrich our campus community,” Bui and Dinh commented on the welcoming nature of their experiences. At the event, many students noted that their favorite traditions of the Mid-Autumn Festival ranged from making lanterns and flying them into the sky to creating bracelets with red wool as per tradition. For Bui and Dinh and many other Asian-identifying students, events like these help to foster a sense of togetherness and unity regarding Asian culture and traditions, as well as offering a “home away from home” for them.
“As a club, we bring people together and motivate them to get more motivated on Muhlenberg’s campus,” Chinese Students Association president Sen Chen ‘21 noted when asked about the goals and purpose of the organization. The group’s aim is to raise awareness around Asian culture and offer a unique perspective for the entire campus community to consider. Chen hopes the event will take place for the third time during the next academic year, as it has been very well-attended for the past two years.
Both the Chinese and Asian Students Associations collaborate together on many different events on campus throughout the year, most notably the Mid-Autumn Festival in the fall and the Lunar New Year in February.
Embracing diversity has been trending on campus, with the annual return of the Sedehi Diversity Project and new additions such as F.A.M. (Framily Affinity Meal) Sunday dinners, hosted by different affinity groups on campus and the opening of the Multicultural Center’s Restoration Room and Declaration Wall. Organizations like the Chinese and Asian Students Associations are vital in creating a more inclusive and welcoming campus community and take a positive step in the right direction of embracing and respecting all differences and diversities at Muhlenberg. It is essential to continue educating the community on the traditions and beliefs of all cultures, races, religions, ethnicities and other differences and foster discussion regarding them.
“I love the volunteering aspect of it,” said Estefania Ruano ‘23 while she made her own lantern. “I joined the Asian Students Association because I love Asian culture, and I wanted to get more involved on campus. I think it’s really nice that we have events like this because they give us perspective.”
The event was widely attended by many students, both those involved in campus organizations and beyond. The Asian and Chinese Students Associations meet one to two times a month in the Multicultural Center and are always welcoming new members. Be sure to keep an eye out for more events hosted by these organizations this semester!