Over 100 members of the Asian American Student Association gathered at LimeRed Teahouse in the heart of Amherst to kick off the academic year with “Boba Bonding” on Wednesday afternoon.
The informal event was organized by the AASA so members of the Asian American community could bond and get to know the group’s executive board. Students were welcome to come from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and play board games, participate in activities and have tea. All proceeds from tea purchases went to the AASA community, allowing the event to also serve as a fundraiser.
“Everything that we earn from AASA goes back into AASA – all the events that we put on are for the community and for UMass,” said Patricia Luong, the AASA logistics coordinator.
Luong explained that all fundraising efforts eventually contribute to Asian Night, the association’s biggest annual showcase.
“That’s why we want to raise enough money – to get you guys an awesome guest artist for free, food for free, t-shirts for free,” Luong, a sociology and information management student said.
Chatter filled the teahouse as the smell of freshly-made milk tea and pastries filled the air. Many students took advantage of a photo booth with props to take photos with their friends. Kevin Zheng, a freshman computer engineering student, said his main reason for attending the event was to “make new friends” with other students in the group.
“It’s nice to meet other Asian students from campus, considering it is mostly white,” Zheng said.
From the perspective of members of the executive board, the event was also important for erasing the line between the board and members of the group.
“There’s always a division between general body members and [executive] board members,” said Vi Bui, the event coordinator for AASA. “We have authority, but we don’t want to be like that.”
Other board members shared the same sentiment of wanting to create a warm relationship with the general members, viewing the association as one big community where students can make friends, share ideas and feel connected to those within their own community.
Mei Rockwell-Postel, AASA vice president and an environmental science senior, said they “want to give off a friendly feeling for our members so they feel comfortable to speak up so they could always share their voice and experiences.”
“[We] want to be your friends and people you can connect with and relate to as Asian Americans,” Bui said.
Clinton Nguyen can be reached at [email protected]