Tufts Asian-American Center to celebrate its 25th anniversary

The Asian-American Center will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a ceremony this Sunday recognizing those who were integral to its creation and showcasing groups currently affiliated with the Asian-American community at Tufts. The event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Cabot Intercultural Center.

According to Director Linell Yugawa, the Asian-American Center was established in 1983 in response to a racial incident in which members of a campus fraternity had their pledges yell racial slurs in front of the Asian-American House, or Start House.

Sunday’s event will begin by recognizing Professor of Biology Frances Chew, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department Chair Nak-Ho Sung and former Lecturer of Asian American Literature Ruth Hsiao, who is now retired, for their involvement in the Asian Faculty Caucus at the time of the center’s establishment and their leadership in the founding of the center.

Attendees will then hear about the incident that sparked the need for the Center’s establishment. An alumnus who lived in the Start House at the time of the 1983 opening will speak, Yugawa said in an e-mail.

The recognition ceremony will be followed by several musical and dance performances from students and groups.

The Tufts Bhangra Team, the Chinese Traditional Dance Troupe, When It Comes It Comes, the Filipino Cultural Society, Fusion, Coast2Coast, Tae Kwon Do and Papersky are among the acts scheduled to perform at the event, according to Yugawa.

A reception will feature a variety of Asian cuisine including Japanese, Indian, Thai, Chinese and Korean dishes.

Ernest Kim, a freshman involved with the Asian-American Center who is helping to plan the event, said that the center has been working on the anniversary celebration since the beginning of the school year. “It’s definitely the biggest event to date for the center,” Kim said.

Kim said that most people involved in the Asian-American Center were not aware of its long history and significance until preparations for the event brought the past to light.

According to Yugawa, Tufts was one of the first universities in the country to open an Asian-American Center, although the presence of such centers in universities has grown in recent years.

The 25th anniversary celebration will be open to the entire Tufts community, as are all other speeches and events hosted by the Asian-American Center.

Kim stressed the center’s role in linking the Asian community to the general student population.

“It is a resource not only for Asian students, but [it] does a lot to help the Asian community to integrate itself into the greater Tufts community,” he said.

The Asian-American Center encourages all Tufts students to register on the center’s Web site and attend the event on Sunday. The center expects several hundred attendees, including students, alumni, staff and non-Tufts guests.