Asian American students work together for cultural awareness

The Victor E. Clarke Recital Hall roared with excitement from more than 150 guests recently as the Asian American Students Association auctioned off some of its most talented members.

“Sold for $160 to the lovely man in the black tux,” shouted Mathew Mancoa, AASA president, over the cheers and applause.

From showing off their musical talents to some crazy-leg dancing, the auction participants were quite the charmers. The club collected more than $2,000 in just a few hours by pairing up dozens of students with romantic dates at the Kendall Ice Skating Rink. All the money went for a good cause – the Kristi House Child Advocacy Center, a local charity that serves as a safe house for sexually abused children.

The AASA has been a student organization for decades and has grown to an estimated 65 members this year.

“We are a social group that works together to raise cultural awareness,” Mancao said. “Our goal is also to teach others about the Asian culture. Fall semester is mostly bonding time for us, and spring semester is when we really disperse into campus.”

In addition to the date auction, AASA has several other events in the making this semester. Coming up at on Feb. 18 at is the second annual Chinese New Year festival in the UC Ballroom. April will be another important month in which the organization will be very active honoring the Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month (APIAH.) During International Week, which is run by COISO, Asian Night will be held on April 4 at 6:30 p.m. on the patio by the Rock.

During Asian Night, “the club hosts events such as sushi-making workshops, game night, a traditional tea ceremony and a ramen noodle eating contest,” said AASA member Cyndi Poon.

“There is always a lot of audience and member interaction at our events,” said AASA vice president Sophie Trautschold. “It is always very exciting, and we try to get as many people involved.”

Trautschold has been an active AASA member since her freshman year and has risen to many leadership positions.

“My freshman year I roomed with Cyndi Poon,” she said. “She dragged me out to one of the club meetings with her. At first it was really awkward, and everyone was asking what I was doing there, since I am obviously not Asian.

“For me, I’ve always been very interested in the Japanese culture,” Trautschold said. “AASA has helped me network, and now I can go over there and stay with friends I have made in this organization for free.”

The organization looks for new members on a rolling basis. Students of all countries and cultures are welcome to join.

“You don’t need to be Asian! The Asian is only in our name,” said Mancao. “We are one big family.”