December 2, 2023

CBU students who attended the event got to witness traditional dances performed by the Polynesian dancers.

The sound of drums and cheers filled the basketball courts outside of Mission Hall as Polynesian dancers glided across the pavement. Across the lawn, students sat around a table learning how to make origami cranes while others received paper slips with their names hand-written in Arabic.

The first Asian Pacific Islander Celebration took place on April 4, from 7-9 p.m. It was a collaboration between Community Life and the Asian and Pacific Islander Club (API), and according to both parties the event was a huge success.

The API club has spent the last couple of months preparing for this event. Malia Lizama, junior health science major and president of the API club, says that they have been planning this event for over two months. Originally, there were plans for an event during the academic year of 2019-20, but with the pandemic shutdown, it did not happen. Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed, the event was finally able to happen in full force.

“It was a fantastic event,” said Chris Hofschroer, dean of students. “We probably had over 300 people here, and for a first year cultural event, that is outstanding.”

Ashley Cote, senior exercise science major and one of the interns in charge of planning the event with the API club said she enjoyed learning about the culture.

“I really loved learning about all the different cultures that are incorporated into Asian and Pacific Islander Celebration ­— it is more than 50 countries,” Cote said.

The event offered a variety of different cultural activities and food as well as an art exhibit and dance performances put on by two CBU students and The Polynesian Entertainment Group. Ica Caballero, senior nursing major, was one of the students who performed Hula.

Caballero has been learning Hula since she was 5. She said Tanner Kekoa Foster, the other student performer, reached out to her and asked if she would be willing to perform at the event. She happily said yes.

“Having this event now means so much because there are so many people willing to show up and support and enjoy what comes from Asian Pacific Islander Culture,” Caballero said. 

She was excited to share her own culture with the students at CBU. 

The API club is relatively new on campus. It formed in 2019 right before the pandemic, so most of the original members graduated or left during the lockdown. Currently, the majority of the board members are first-year members of the club. The board of the API club is run by Club President Malia Lizama, Vice President Abigail Yagi, Treasurer Joshua Smith and Secretary Angel Araujo.

“Being able to be in this position gave me the opportunity to meet so many different people from so many different cultures,” Lizama said. “It is cool that we are able to now be a bigger impact and show people how huge the diversity is here at CBU.”

All four board members are excited for the next Asian Pacific Islander Celebration and whatever else the API club has planned for its new presence on campus. With the successful turnout at this first event, the club has plans to make the next one bigger and better to show the most authentic side of Asian Pacific Islander Culture.

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