Decorated with signature Taiwanese yellow lanterns, the East Hall atriums were transformed for the annual Taste of Taiwan event Saturday. Co-hosted by the Taiwanese American Student Association, Taiwanese Student Association and Michigan Taiwanese Student Associations, the event featured a variety of Taiwanese food and street games from the streets of Taiwan’s famous Keelung Miaokou Night Market.
Elton Lin, an Engineering freshman who helped organize the event, said the event aimed to celebrate Taiwanese culture as well as to bring different Taiwanese student organizations together.
“For us, I think it’s important because this not only represents a big part of our culture, we also had the opportunity to work together with other organizations,” Lin said. “Even though we are all related to Taiwanese culture, we are still different organizations on campus. It is good for us to work together to show people our culture.”
The events were divided into three sections: food, games and performance. The food selection included braised pork rice, stir-fried cabbage, three cup chicken, fried rice vermicelli, salt pepper chicken, winter melon grass jelly tea and shaved ice.
LSA senior Jason Wong said the food was a great starting point to introduce people to a different culture, accompanying performances and art forms. He said food can be an additional incentive for more people to come to cultural events on campus.
“I have seen a lot of performances this year already,” Wong said. “They are all really good, but having delicious and authentic food like this is definitely a good incentive to get more people.”
LSA junior Jeremy Yun also thought the food was a huge part of what made the event successful.
“The food is really good,” Yun said. “I have never tried a lot of these foods before, and it is really interesting to see a lot of the Taiwanese culture being soaked into all these food stands.”
Alongside the food stands were activity areas where participants participated in traditional activities often seen at Taiwanese night markets such as ring toss, can knockdown, chopstick skills and bottle balancing.
LSA freshman David Sigler tried many of the games and food at the event and was happy with his experience.
“There is a lot of food and they are all pretty good, the games are really interesting,” Sigler said. “It’s also got a nice turnout and people seem to be having a good time.”
Besides foods and games, there was also a performance in the East Hall Auditorium. The performance started with a group of dancers from K-Motion, an all-female Korean pop dance group.
LSA freshman Catherine Zhang is a K-Motion dancer who performed at the event. She said the reason she wanted to perform was because she wanted to break the negative impressions people have about K-pop.
“I have always really liked K-pop,” Zhang said. “And I feel like K-pop has this weird stigma around it like it is kind of odd or weird. It really is not. I think it is something everyone can get into and since it’s such a wide genre it has something for everyone.”
A group of dancers from rXn, a multicultural co-ed dance group under the Chinese Student Association that performs both hip-hop and traditional Chinese dances, performed a Chinese fan dance, flag dance and hip-hop dances.
Michelle Zhang, rXn coordinator and Engineering sophomore, said performing at the event is a good opportunity to open up more discussions about Asian/Pacific Islander American cultures.
“It is really important to have events like this because a lot of people do not necessarily take courses on A/PIA identities, but they are a big part of our society, especially with a lot of groups of Asian people immigrating to America, a lot of Asian Americans being born,” Zhang said. “(The) Asian American population is always increasing,” “There used to be a stigma and stereotype against us. By having these events where we can truly show our cultural aspect and to show that we are not just a stereotype, truly brings to life some personal traits of the A/PIA identity.”
Suri Hou, LSA junior and a folk music singer, performed “Back to December” by Taylor Swift. Hou said the event supported student creative expression.
“I think firstly, it can give students insights of different cultures from different parts of the world,” Hou said. “Secondly, it can stimulate students to improve their creativity and working together to put up things like this.”
Dancers from Konnect, a student organization of K-pop enthusiasts, also took part in the performance. Alexandra Westman, LSA sophomore and co-founder of Konnect, said Konnect was founded to provide more people with an opportunity to express their passion for K-pop.
“What really sparked our idea for this club to meet up weekly and learning dances is that we were actually auditioning for a different group,” Westman said. “A lot of people didn’t get in, and I know they all have a passion for dance. So we started small with only four people, and we just kept on growing.”
The event was attended by over 200 students and was considered a success by the event team.
“The most exciting part is seeing a lot of people here,” Lin said. “Like I said our goal is to spread the culture and try to invite as many people as possible and have them understand and share our experience.”