This past Sunday, the Night Festival, a recreated Asian market, set up outside the Campus Center, providing students with an engaging and oftentimes delicious late night diversion.

The festival, which was planned by the University’s Asian/Asian American (AAA) Cultural Awareness Initiative, consisted of brightly colored decorations, live music, and table after table of food, drinks, and ornaments from various Asian cultures.

The Night Festival ran from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., and swarms of students—over 200 in total—streamed in through all three hours. The bustling atmosphere aimed to achieve the feel of a “typical Asian Night Market,” as written on the event’s Facebook page.

“It felt extremely real to me,” said Ellen Eng ’08, who visited several markets when she visited China last summer on a Wesleyan summer travel program. “The collaboration of all of these cultural groups truly brought the Asian night market experience to Wesleyan.”

Students visiting the festival could choose from specialties like packets of Lychee jelly, cups of milo (a classic Malaysian chocolate drink), and seasoned corn nuts. The variety of items at the festival gave everyone a chance to try something new.

“It was really cool to go there and see things that I used to eat when I was a kid and haven’t seen for such a long time,” said Joshua Phrakonekham ’10, a visitor to the festival who is half Laotian. “But it was awesome that there were also lots of things that were completely new to me.”

Students were free to walk through the market and browse, but it was hard to resist making at least a couple purchases. Items were being sold for tickets, usually no more than one or two, and students could buy tickets for 25 cents each.

“I was really happy to see how reasonably priced everything was,” said Vernon Thommeret ’10.

The Night Festival ended up earning $710 in total and every single group sold out of all of their food. All profits made from the festival will go to support underprivileged kids in Vietnam and Thailand. Thomas Tachibana ’08, Asian/Asian American Cultural Awareness Initiative member and one of the main planners of the event, looked at the Night Festival as not only a fundraiser but also a way to help Wesleyan students learn more about Asian countries and culture.

“The aim of the event was an attempt to bridge the cultural divide between the AAA community and the greater Wesleyan student body,” Tachibana said. “AAA events in the past have tended to be exclusive by nature and we decided that an event like a night market would be an awesome first step in that [other] direction. This event provided a forum for a variety of Asian and Asian American identity groups to showcase their cultural foods and games.”

Tachibana said that the idea for the market originated during a casual discussion he had with a friend during first semester.

“We started talking about how fun [Asian markets] were and ultimately came up with the idea to simulate that kind of event at Wesleyan,” Tachibana said.

Both organizers and visitors considered the Night Festival a great success.

“It definitely surpassed my expectations,” said Rose Agger ’10. “I thought it would just be just a couple stands with some jewelry but they really went all out.”

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