Last semester Calvin students visited a table in Johnny’s to have their names written in four Asian languages: Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Hindi. The free calligraphy event was hosted by members of Calvin’s Asia Club.
“It’s pretty sweet,” said freshman Matt DeJong as he received his four Asian names on a small yellow card. “I had no idea my name was so diverse. I’ll want to learn to write it in all of these languages.”
That’s the reaction the club is aiming for with its many events said club president Chi Young Youn, a Korean student majoring in business and economics.
“We did the event to make people aware of Asia and what Asia is all about,” he said. “Our purpose is to make the Calvin community aware of Asian culture.”
The club, which has 200 people on its mailing list, generally welcomes between 25 and 50 people to its events. But last spring, the club’s event featuring origami and mehendi (traditional Indian tattoo) was not able to accommodate all comers!
During this coming spring semester the club plans to partner with Grand Valley State University on an Asian food night.
“We come together, find a kitchen and teach people to cook Asian food,” said Youn of the event, which last year welcomed 25 people to sample curry, dahl, kimbab-a kind of Korean sushi-and miso soup, among other delicacies.
But Asia Club isn’t all about food and games, Youn maintained. The organization also is working to incorporate a missions emphasis into its activities.
“We’re in a Christian school, so I think it’s our duty in a way to show how God is working in people in different parts of Asia,” said Youn, himself the son of missionaries to Turkey.
Asia Club was born three years ago from the ashes of Calvin’s former China and Anime clubs. Now a committee of 12 Asian students plans the club events.
“The committee has to be Asian because we do events about Asian culture,” Youn said.
The club is not simply for Asian students, he is quick to add.
“People think we’re ‘Asian Club,’ but it’s Asia Club,” he emphasized. “So it’s basically for everyone: anyone who’s interested in Asian culture and also for Asian students so they won’t feel too homesick.”
The club serves the same function a Chinatown or Koreatown might in a large city, he said.