AASA: Asian traditions meet modern campus life - Center for Global Engagement

AASA: Asian traditions meet modern campus life

Theresa Lam

Seeking to celebrate diverse cultures on campus while having fun and making new friends? Look no further than the Asian American Student Association (AASA) at The University of Tulsa. Led by senior management major and AASA President Theresa Lam, AASA hosts exciting events throughout the school year that showcase the colorful traditions and cultures of Asia.  

While AASA events draw impressive crowds, the organization’s true mission is to cultivate an intimate and inclusive community for AASA members and AAPI individuals. “Whether it is to share vulnerable stories or create fond memories with friends,” Lam said, “the impact we hope to have is to be a group that can facilitate an exciting and safe environment for students to express who they are.” 

Festive fervor 

2023 Lunar New Year Festival

The organization encompasses a wide range of students from different backgrounds who can give valuable insight on topics such as Asian American identity, culture and history. “Our team is full of students from many Asian regions, and as a president, my goal is to listen, discuss and implement their traditions into the events we host to promote inclusivity as much as possible,” Lam stated. To do this, AASA offers a large variety of Asian foods, cultural performances and music that align with various AAPI backgrounds. 

In collaboration with other cultural organizations, AASA hosts events that celebrate Asian holidays—Lunar New Year, Moon Festival, Diwali, etc.—to educate attendees on why they celebrate. “We always love to incorporate a portion where we talk about the history and significance of the holiday to increase awareness and understanding,” said Lam. 

Her two favorite events from the past year were the Lunar New Year Festival and Spice It Up, and for good reason. The Lunar New Year Festival was a monumental undertaking requiring months of planning in advance, but the result was a true spectacle to behold. With more than 500 attendees from the campus and Tulsa community, it was the biggest event AASA and other collaborating organizations had ever hosted. Even the local news channels couldn’t resist capturing the beautiful student performances and the infectious positive atmosphere for area residents to see. “It took a village and many hours and obstacles to conquer,” Lam admits, “but I loved every minute of it.” 

Spice It Up

As for Spice It Up, Lam’s passion for showcasing the different spicy cuisines from all over Asia shone through in every aspect of the event. From the fun and casual vibe to the opportunity to bond with friends, it was an unforgettable experience that left everyone wanting more.  

All are welcome 

AASA also prioritizes giving back to the community by holding successful fundraisers to aid different organizations on campus, in Tulsa and beyond. “In the past, we have fundraised for TU’s Afghan refugees, Stop AAPI Hate, AnimalsAsia to end bear bile farming and more,” Lam said. AASA sells boba tea to students on campus for their fundraising efforts, but they are not stopping there. “Stick around for updates,” said Lam, “because we might be looking for volunteers to help us help us concoct fresh fundraising ideas!” 

(L-R) Theresa Lam, Teresa Dinh, Kristi Pham, Cecilia Nguyen, Teresa Nguyen, David Seo

Whether you are part of the AAPI community or just interested in learning more about Asian cultures, AASA welcomes all to join in the fun and become a part of their inclusive community. 

If you want to get involved, there are several opportunities available to all students in the coming fall semester, Lam said. AASA welcomes anyone with a passion for uplifting Asian cultures and is recruiting interested students to join their event planning process. “We are always in need of volunteers to help us prepare and set up for any upcoming events,” she added.  

Want to stay informed on upcoming AASA events? Follow their Instagram @aasautulsa or direct your questions to AASA’s president for the upcoming school year, Athan Lau, at ayl7133@utulsa.edu.