Brown Rice: Asian Arts Festival 2012

Hello prospective students! Welcome to my column Brown Rice. I’m Timothy Chou, a Taiwanese-American freshman hailing from the sunny Bay Area of California, here to write about anything and everything related to Asian culture around campus (with a special emphasis on cuisine) and about my experiences with switching coastlines. Join me as I figure out life at Brown!

Above is a picture from Mumu’s, a Chinese restaurant ironically (or perhaps fittingly?) located on Federal Hill, the Italian side of Providence. It’s just a short 10 minute bus ride away from campus and has some amazing culinary offers if you’ve explored all of Thayer already. I found this pork with lo mein dish authentic and delicious, reminding me of some of my favorite Chinese restaurants back home in California! However, most of the restaurants you’ll find on Federal Hill serve authentic Italian cuisine, comparable to Boston’s North End.

Read on to the main feature of this post, this year’s Asian Arts Festival 2012: Internet SensASIAN!This year’s Asian Arts Festival showcased the many talented Asian people around our campus; the night included everything from a powerful and synchronized performance by the Korean percussion group Hansori to an energetic demonstration by the Japanese martial arts group Kendo. My personal favorite performance was by Archipelag-a, a group of Filipino-American women who delivered a moving piece about breaking free of lists and finding yourself here at Brown. The featured performance of the night was youtube star Jason Chen (http://www.youtube.com/user/miniachilles), who sang songs about different kinds of friends. Everyone who wanted to was fortunate enough to be able to meet him afterwards – my friends and I all got to take individual photos with him!

This year’s show addressed the question “What does it mean to you to be Asian-American?” by showing short clips of interviews with performers answering the prompt. Coming from a heavily populated Asian-American area (Silicon Valley), I’d never really considered that question before – but this night made me think and reconsider. How does the color of my hair or the shade of my skin affect the way others perceive me? How might stereotypes influenced and enforced by the media contribute to images of Asian-Americans? And how might these stereotypes have come up in the first place? All good food for thought.

To conclude this post, I hope that college decisions are going well for prospective students. Please feel free to shoot me an email if you have anything (and I really do mean ANYTHING) on your mind at timothy_chou@brown.edu!

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