The scent of roast pork dumplings and Korean fried chicken filled the Commons on October 23 when around 80 students and parents gathered at 6 p.m. for the third annual Asian Cultural Welcome Reception.
Chinese Teacher Yinong Yang and BB&N Parent Association President Micki Rowaan P’20 hosted the two-hour event, a potluck dinner featuring singing performances and a panel of Asian students who shared their Upper School (US) experiences.
“The main purpose of this event is to provide a chance for families with Asian background to socialize and get to know each other better,” Co-Chair of the Asian and the Asian-American Parents Association (4A’s) Tracy Ma P’20 said.
Mr. Yang noted that the event aimed to connect Asian families new to the US to meet the existing Asian US community.
“It’s important for new families to hear other families’ experiences at the school,” Mr. Yang said.
Ms. Ma and Director of Multicultural Services Lewis Bryant began planning the event in September.
The dinner featured an assortment of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine brought by parents. Food was arranged on five rectangular tables connected end-to-end, at the head of which was a miniature wooden boat, its deck filled with a wide assortment of sushi. Following that were dumplings, noodle, and pork dishes and a dessert of sweet red bean bun pastries at the table’s other end.
Chinese student Philip Liu ’20, whose parents brought many of the Chinese dishes, said he particularly enjoyed the Korean fried chicken.
“They had both a sweet and savory taste that meshed really well together,” he said.
After the meal, Emma Harden ’20 brought out her ukulele to sing “Ocean Eyes” by Billie Eilish. Chongyuan Hong ’20 followed with a vocal performance of “Two Butterflies,” a Mandarin song by Chang Long.
US Math Teacher Kevin Bau said he was impressed by the emotion in Chongyuan’s performance and noticed a few adults in the audience were singing along.
“I thought he sounded beautiful,” he said. “I didn’t know the song, but I could tell that he was putting his heart into it.”
Then Chongyuan, Connie Yang ’22, Anoushka Mahendra-Rajah ’21, Andrew Zhao ’21, Philip Liu ’20, Katherine Stevo ’20, and Claire Zhang ’20 situated themselves in front of the audience to answer parents and other students’ questions, which ranged from “Can you tell us about leadership opportunities?” to “How do you survive Dr. Gatti’s Honors Biology class?”
Claire was a key contributor, sharing details from various personal experiences such as her attendance at this year’s Round Square International Conference trip in Vancouver.
“I think that the students really learned something from what we upperclassmen had to say, whether it was about school activities or just dealing with the stress and work that comes with high school,” she said.
Revathy Mahendra P’21 said hearing students’ firsthand perspectives on the school was important.
“It was good to see what they liked and what they wanted to see changed,” she said.
Daniel Wang ’22, a new Asian student at the US, called the event a success.
“The panel was a great addition, and I definitely learned more about the workings of the Upper School,” he said. “This was a really good social opportunity to bond with other fellow Asians.”
Mr. Bryant said he thought the event played a small but crucial part in fostering school diversity.
“[An event like this] empowers an individual to step out of their own comfort zone and be willing to share and express themselves more fully because they know they have that community behind them,” he said.
Ms. Ma expressed satisfaction with the welcome dinner and said she hopes students will play a larger role in organizing and performing at future events.