The Asian Student Association (ASA) recently hosted a spectacular Lunar New Year Gala on February 10, 2024, marking the beginning of the Year of the Dragon with an unforgettable celebration of culture. The event, held at the UNC Ballroom, brought together students for an evening filled with mesmerizing performances, delectable cuisine, and a sense of community.

From captivating musical performances to lively dance routines, the gala showcased a diverse array of talent. The audience was treated to spellbinding melodies by The Beats, the university's renowned a capella group, and serenaded by the soulful tunes of Resonance, a dynamic jazz band. The Piano Club's enchanting performances, alongside the energetic displays by the Bhangra Dance Club and Parindey Bollywood Dance Club, added to the vibrant tapestry of the evening. Kelly, the president of the ASA, said:

“We make it a point to invite UBCO performers every year to showcase their talent, especially Asian performers. I feel very honoured that this gala can be a platform where a lot of our talented students can perform and show their skills and talents to all these people gathered here. I am especially grateful for Resonance, the jazz band. They serenaded us as we walked into the gala, and now they’re playing while everyone eats. They also have another performance lined up later in the event, so shoutout to them!”

One of the highlights of the gala was the raffle, which featured a grand prize of a luxurious date night experience. The lucky winner would enjoy a chauffeured ride in an Audi to a sponsored dinner at Pick Thai restaurant, creating a memorable evening. The generosity of sponsors such as O-Lake Cafe and Bistro, CM Chicken & Zen Sushi, Bubble Waffle Cafe, and J's Cafe contributed to other raffle prizes. Beyond the festivities, the ASA demonstrated its commitment to making a positive impact on the community by donating a portion of the proceeds from the gala to the SUO Pantry. This act of generosity exemplifies the spirit of giving and solidarity that lies at the heart of Lunar New Year celebrations, emphasizing the importance of supporting those in need and fostering a sense of unity within the community.

In addition to showcasing the rich cultural traditions of Asia, the Lunar New Year Gala served as a platform for fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation. By bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds, the event promoted dialogue, friendship, and mutual respect, echoing the values of inclusivity and diversity that are central to the university's ethos. 

“ASA always hosts really fun events, and we always have a blast, they have good music, performances, and photo booths, and the company is always great,” said Luna, a first-year student attending the gala. “I love it. Every time I go, they have really good food. All of the executives are very nice; you can tell that they are like a family, and it is heartwarming to see how close they are. That’s something I’m jealous of, like I want to be a part of that too! On campus, you don’t see a lot of Asian people. So in the first semester, when ASA hosted the icebreaker, it felt like home. I met a lot of friends here, because all the Asians gather together, and it’s like ‘You’re from Taiwan? I’m from Taiwan too!’ so I’ve met a lot of people through ASA and it’s really nice.”

“I’m not an international student, but in Kelowna, the demographic is very . . . I don’t know how to say it politely . . . it’s very white, and having a club like this, that gathers people from the [Asian] community, and is welcoming to everyone to participate in activities like these, it is definitely like a home away from home,” added Luna’s friend, Lily. “And the food is really, really good!”

As the festivities drew to a close, attendees left the gala with hearts full of joy and spirits lifted high, carrying with them memories of an evening filled with laughter, music, and camaraderie. 

The ASA was delighted that the hard work paid off. Leyla, an executive of the club, said:

“Last year, I was just here as a guest. It was my first semester at UBC in January, and it has been exactly a year, and now I’m here as ASA exec! Setting everything up, organizing, seeing it all in person, running around and setting stuff up, it is actually even more enjoyable for me than being a guest. Even the raffle tickets, money coins, and all those souvenirs we got last year as guests, I still have them, like, I have them in my backpack right now!”

“We host very inclusive events, and even though it’s attached to one cultural aspect, you are still welcome. There are so many people here just to perform and enjoy. It’s a great way to have fun,” she expressed. “We had a lot of preparation put into this. We’ve been dashing here and there, but honestly, it’s already a success, and seeing the result of our hard work in person brings me a lot of satisfaction.”

The ASA's Lunar New Year Gala not only celebrated a time-honoured tradition, but also embodied the spirit of unity, generosity, and cultural exchange, serving as a shining example of the power of community and collaboration. You can follow their work on their Instagram account @asa.suo.