Asian Pacific students celebrate culture and traditions in annual ‘Night Market’

Drawing from night markets prevalent in Asia, festival featured vibrant music, “street food” and lights.

[One-sentence description of what this media is: "A photo of a vaccine site on USC campus" or "Gif of dancing banana". Important for accessibility/people who use screen readers.]

The Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, or APASA, hosted its annual “Night Market,” a festival featuring local food vendors, cultural organizations, student performances, prizes and other activities in the McCarthy Quad on Tuesday to celebrate the cultures and traditions of USC students.

Crowds of students filled the quad, while 30 different Asian and Pacific cultural organizations set up booths and activities at the festival that took place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Some of the organizations present included the Asian Pacific Cinematic Association, Zeta Phi Rho, an Asian-interest multicultural fraternity, and the Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment.

APASA’s “Night Market,” home to “vibrant music,” “street food” and lights for the night, drew inspiration from the night markets that are prevalent in Asia, according to Emma Hsu, a senior applied and computational mathematics student and co-executive director of APASA. Students had the chance to make origami, play Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Jeopardy, hula hoop and participate in Tinikling, a Filipino dance similar to jump-rope with two bamboo poles.

“What we aim to do with these different organizations is to have people come learn about them because we think that these organizations that we invited are really important to intersectional conversations for our community,” Hsu said. “So we kind of hope to foster that unity and have a starting place for those conversations by having them here.”

When asked what grabs students’ attention about the market, Hsu said “I think a lot of people come for the food but stay for the things to do and performers to watch.”

Along with opportunities to try a new cuisine or learn more about an unfamiliar club, student groups including Chaotic 3, a hip-hop dance team, Traditional Chinese Dance, a traditional dance team and Spade A, a K-pop dance team performed. Singer and songwriter Melissa Tungare and the USC Kung Fu Club also took the stage at the quad.

Sophomore chemistry student Rebecca Choi said she traveled “to Korea last summer and went somewhere similar,” so she wanted to come check out the festival to experience a market like she visited there.

“I have a lot of friends in APASA and I’m a part of some of the organizations, so I wanted to come support and check it out,” Kezia Leung, a sophomore majoring in cognitive science. “Plus, there’s free food.”

The market’s menu featured a variety of items from restaurants and food trucks across cultures, like Bombay Frankie, Salaya, Dollar Hits and Fantastic Donuts. Some specialty dishes included Chicken Tikka Masala, Pork Skewers and Mango Lassi.

APASA announced “Night Market” on Instagram earlier this month as its biggest event of the year. Last spring, the “Night Market” drew over 1,700 attendees, according to the assembly, and even more were expected to attend this year.

Anjali Suthahar, a sophomore neuroscience student and the co-recruitment director of APASA, said that “Night Market” is “just a way for us to allow our member organizations to have people come and learn more about them and play games.”