From live musical performances and spoken word poetry to food and club attendance, the American Asia-Pacific Resource Center, also known as APARC, has brought the student community together through its welcome event.
The welcome event, APISAA Take-Off, was held on Wednesday, September 7 at the Becker Amphitheater to give exposure to groups of Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian students. Several clubs joined the event to kick off the semester and introduce the students to the community.
“We moved all our programs online for two years, so this is the first time we’ve brought back in person,” said APARC coordinator Hathiya Chea. “In terms of attendance, we have lines of people checking in, lines of people getting food, and so just like walking around and seeing students engaging with the tables, I feel like that it’s been such a big turnout so far.”
Sophomore biochemistry student and Queer People of Color board member Rovick Alberto presented a musical performance at the event. He sang “Nothing” by Jeremy Passion, a popular Filipino American singer. Alberto said that as a singer he wanted to sing a song where the audience can relate to the emotions he is trying to portray. Although Alberto is not a member of APARC, he helps as much as possible to give back to his community.
“Some people don’t realize there are resources and there are communities and clubs where they can go where they didn’t necessarily feel like they could be who they are,” Alberto said. “But in these spaces, you’re safe and be who you are without feeling like someone negative is looking at you differently.”
Although the AAPI community represents approximately 25% of Cal State Fullerton’s student population, students from other cultures have also come together to celebrate this event.
Maya Serrano, a fourth-year business marketing student, said her love for K-pop brought her closer to the API community. Although Serrano is Mexican-American, she recognizes the importance of appreciating other cultures despite not being part of that particular culture herself.
Office of Alumni Engagement Student Outreach Specialist Justine Budisantoso also attended the event to inform students of opportunities they can consider after graduation.
“Community events are so important because I believe they provide a space for people to learn and connect with others,” Budisantoso said.
RJ Abesamis, a fifth-year Asian American studies student and president of the Queer Trans People of Color Collective, performed spoken word poetry at the event. Abesamis thinks these type of events are important because they push students in the right direction to keep moving forward and make it a norm not to separate communities due to cultural differences.
“It’s really important because representation is the first step, but turning your passion and even your anger about college into action is what we want to do,” Abesamis said.
“That’s what we want to do; we want to help engage students.
Throughout the event, students stopped to admire performances or learn more about what was going on around them. From long queues for food to enthusiastic discussions with clubs, APARC had a great turnout despite being absent throughout the pandemic.
“You can feel the energy, you can feel the connection between the students, but on top of that, you also help other students to get to know each other, to be part of this culture,” said Jie Tian, liaison officer with APARC and researcher. librarian at the Pollak Library.
Wei Chong, a third-year film and television arts student, attended the event as director of the Chinese Student Association. Chong hoped to see more events like these in the future and expressed interest in collaborating with other clubs from different cultures.
Abesamis, who is also part of CSUF Students for Quality Education, said more events like Queer Prom are happening for the foreseeable future.
“Queer joy is something we need, we don’t need more stories related to our trauma, but we need more stories centered around joy.”