With games and food reminiscent of a Taiwanese night market, the Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA) held its annual Night Market on Saturday, Apr. 14 in the Glass Pavilion. According to TASA co-presidents Richard Hong and Eric Yau, the goal of their event Saturday evening was to raise awareness of Taiwanese culture and highlight the group’s presence on campus.
“[We’re sharing] a little bit about Taiwan, a little bit about our culture,” Hong said.
Night markets are commonplace in Taiwan’s urban and suburban regions. They often feature various vendors that offer games or sell food and various items in a typically crowded and noisy environment.
TASA set up tables around the pavilion that held various Chinese and Taiwanese foods, some prepared by students and others catered by Szechuan House, a Lutherville, MD Asian restaurant. Other tables offered desserts and drinks including shaved ice, red bean soup and bubble tea.
Student performers at the event included the Tai Chi club, BBoys and the Lion Dance Troupe. As their featured performer, TASA brought in rising YouTube star Kevin Lien, best known for his English cover of “Wedding Dress” by Korean pop artist Taeyang.
Lien, using his acoustic guitar to accompany his voice, performed both covers of various artists across genres and his original compositions, inserting short rap segments into the former. A personal connection between Yau and Lien proved instrumental in TASA’s recruitment of the artist for the event.
“Kevin Lien is my friend from high school, so it was pretty easy for us to get in touch,” Yau said.
TASA initially faced a significant funding hurdle when selecting an artist to invite for this year’s event.
“For most of our grants we only got half of what we got last year,” Hong said.
“TASA is known as a free food kind of cultural group, and so the hardest thing is how we do fundraising,” Yau added.
Yau mentioned The Inter-Asian Council’s support for Night Market, part of Asian Awareness month, and that they had reached out to other groups to help co-sponsor the event and increase its diversity.
“It doesn’t just have to be Taiwanese-only,” Yau said.
As a result of reduced funding, TASA implemented a ticketing system, which offered a set of free tickets to allow attendees to get one plate of food. Students who wanted more food could purchase additional tickets.
“It’s a really fun event. I met some really awesome people. The food selection this year was good,” junior Alex Dang said.
The only other aspect of the evening that Dang did not enjoy was the loudness of the Lion Dance Troupe’s performance.
“The acoustics for lion dance were not awesome,” he said.
Freshman Karin Umfrey enjoyed the performances.
“It was a good cultural event… I thought the performances were really good, and I like that they brought a singer in because he was really good,” she said.
In previous years, TASA had held Night Market in the Mattin Center, which had been impeded by weather last year, forcing the event to relocate indoors.
Despite other events occurring on campus this past weekend, Hong felt that they had a successful turnout, as they appealed to a different set of interests.
“I think Night Market attracts a different crowd than the lacrosse game,” Hong said.