Who wouldn’t want to travel to the various countries within Asia-- to experience the vivacious cultures, taste deliciously different foods, and witness the the wondrous scenery and sights? Well, why spend thousands of dollars and take 12+ hour long flights across the Pacific Ocean when we have Asia in our backyard? This year, APASA’s interns tried to push their allotted event budget as much as they could to create “Asia in Our Backyard”, focusing providing awareness about Los Angeles’s various ethnic cultural towns. As an extension of APAHF, the event consisted of embracing and learning about all the ethnic and cultural differences that make LA, LA. From your classic Chinatown, Koreatown, and Lil Tokyo, there was also the inclusion of lesser-known Little Bangladesh, Thai Town, and Historic Filipinotown. Of course, these small cultural towns cannot exactly replace the full experience of the countries and cultures they represent, but it’s a good place to start for broke college students in LA.
During the event, attendees were given “passports” that were used to track which towns they’d visited and interacted with. In Chinatown they created paper lanterns, in Little Tokyo they used the bottoms of bottles to imprint flower petals on paper, in Koreatown participants tried their hand at a popular game called Goongi, and so on and so forth. After completing the activities, hearing little snippets about the towns’ histories, grabbing some candy related to that station’s country, passports would be signed and travellers could move on to whichever country caught their eye next. Once they’d visited all 6 cultural towns, participants could trade in their passports for free boba from APASA’s sponsor, Toastea, and have their name entered in a raffle for various gift cards and a Mickey Mouse Tsum Tsum.
In general, the event went extremely smoothly and was quite a success; students actually seemed interested in the content the interns had to share with them, rather than the boba destination at the very end. As for myself, although I talked myself dry while advocating for Thai Town to as many as a hundred or so attendees, I had a lot of fun and even learned quite a bit myself. “Asia in Our Backyard” is the perfect opportunity for USC students to learn about the various APA identities in our very own backyard-- the LA area, and especially learn about the diversity that exists within our APA community itself.