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New club brings East and Southeast Asian tradition to ASU

In its first year as an official club, the Asian Medical Student Organization plans to bring the community together through upcoming Moonlight Festival


The Moonlight Festival event will be on Sept. 30. Illustration originally published Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.

The Asian Medical Student Organization (AMSO) is hosting a Moonlight Festival on Oct. 14 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union to celebrate the holiday.

In the organization's first cultural event, AMSO will serve food commonly found at Moon Festivals such as mooncakes, and cater other East and Southeast Asian food. The club will also have a screening of the movie "Kung Fu Panda."

The purpose of the celebration is to unite students, give them a chance to meet or catch up with their peers and bring East and Southeast Asian traditions to the ASU community.

"We want to get everyone together to eat and watch a movie. In many East Asian cultures, coming together and eating dinner is a very valuable thing, and we really want to show that to the ASU community and show them what it means to be a family," said Yash Sharma, AMSO vice president and a junior studying biological sciences.

The Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is one of the most important East Asian traditions, and revolves around reuniting with family and loved ones. Traditionally, families get together to watch the rise of the full moon, considered the brightest moon of the year.

Those who celebrate partake in eating traditional foods, performing songs and poetry, and making lanterns. This festival is based around the legend of Chang'e, the moon goddess in Chinese mythology.

"In China, it is one of the biggest national holidays, and is almost as important as the New Year," said Yueru Ni, AMSO secondary advisor and lecturer for the Chinese Language Flagship Program. "It's a little bit like Thanksgiving in the states, where people go home to reunite with their family members. We usually have dinner together and serve moon cake, which round shape symbolizes the reunion of the family."

ASMO wants to educate ASU students about traditions and cultures outside of their own and give students who traditionally celebrate these events an opportunity to do so away from home. Additionally, the organization hopes to celebrate the sense of community of which the Moon Festival is recognized for. 

"The Moonlight Festival is focused on the idea of family and coming together, said Dylan Wang, president of AMSO and a junior studying biological sciences. "It's kind of like a big family get-together."

Wang and Sharma established AMSO over summer 2021, and began hosting events during the Fall 2021 semester. Wang was motivated to create this organization after witnessing the nationwide anti-Asian racism and hate incited amid to the COVID-19 pandemic and its links to China.

"What really prompted me to start this organization was the amount of Asian hate crimes taking place during the start of COVID," Wang said. "It spurred me to put myself out there and create a community where people can feel welcome and know that they have a place to be."

So far, the group has held a social mixer, a mental health meeting and a health care workshop, but they intend to continue branching out into more cultural events, allowing them to educate students traditions and cultures from all parts of Asia.

The club's mission is to spread awareness on Asian heritage in the field of medicine and to provide medical students with opportunities to make connections in the Asian community.

"Our biggest and most core idea is representation," Sharma said. "We want to show people that there's other cultures out there than what you might be familiar with, and show them how they celebrate certain events."

Editor's note: This story was updated on Oct. 1, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. to include the rescheduled day of the Moonlight Festival. 

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Sadie Buggle

Sadie Buggle is a full-time reporter for the Community and Culture desk at The State Press. She was previously the editor-in-chief and news editor of her high school newspaper. 

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