Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration Helps Globalize the Liberal Arts

Written by Casey Trimm ’20

The holidays call for quality time spent with friends and family, authentic food, and a celebration of culture, but international students at Denison don’t always have the luxury to do so. Lucky enough for the Denison community, the Asian Culture Club (ACC), in collaboration with Global China Connection (GCC), hosted a Mid-Autumn Festival celebration embracing this traditional Asian holiday and bringing the community together.

This event united international students from varying Asian countries, as well as other members of the community in a warm, culturally diverse environment. With the goal of reminding students of their home culture and bringing it to the Hill, this event highlighted the different meanings and ways of celebrating this festival around Asia. As Chinese people eat traditional mooncakes (月饼), Koreans eat songpyeon (송편). Although these deserts aren’t exactly the same in terms of recipe and taste, they both symbolize traditional culture, unity, and a prosperous harvest. 

According to GCC Faculty Advisor Dr. Shao-yun Yang, “The Mid-Autumn Festival celebration is vital not only for helping our non-Asian students to understand Asian cultures better, but also for building friendship and understanding between our East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Asian-American students.”

With a spread of different foods, multi-lingual performances, decorated paper lanterns, and more, this event hoped to effectively transform the Denison setting into that of students’ homes halfway across the world. 

“The Asian Culture Club would love our community members to feel at home. This event was a success as over 100 students joined us, along with faculty members and administrators including President Weinberg, Dr. Kennedy, and Dean Fox. The ACC welcomes everyone who identifies as an Asian or is interested in Asian cultures,” said ACC President Tianyi Zhang ‘20. 

Events such as this serve as an extension of a key goal of the newly combined International Student Services (ISS) and Off-Campus Study (OCS) offices. These offices emphasize the integration and embrace of different cultures to facilitate deeper understanding among students, faculty, and staff from various backgrounds. The collaboration of these offices aligns not only with an event like this, but also with President Weinberg’s goal of globalizing the liberal arts. President Weinberg believes that beyond the curriculum, Denison must maintain a commitment to infuse the campus and community with global opportunities that explore a range of cultures. 

Dr. Shao-yun Yang also believes in the value of a globalized liberal arts education. “At an event like this, international students at Denison have no choice but to pool their resources and talents and invite their Asian-American peers into the mix. The results are heart-warming and exemplify the power of the liberal arts to unite human beings for the common good,” said Yang.

The Mid-Autumn Festival celebration represents a small way to get involved with an international community and their customs on campus. Off campus, the OCS office encourages students to broaden their understanding of the rest of the world and other people by studying in a foreign place, but for those who decide to remain on campus, events such as these allow students and administrators to do so in a local way. These events are also a great way for students who have returned from abroad to explore additional cultures and continue to increase their global competence in central Ohio.

If you are interested in studying abroad or would like more information about how the study abroad process works, feel free to check out the OCS office’s website here or swing by the OCS office during walk-in hours Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. The office is located on the fourth floor of the Burton D. Morgan Center building across the hall from the ISS office. 

            For future events or ways to get involved with the Asian community on campus, check out the ACC Facebook page or the GCC Facebook page. You can also keep up with the ISS office on Instagram (@issdenison) and the OCS office on Instagram and Twitter (@ocsdenison) and Facebook (@denisonocs).