New College and Ringling partner for AAPI month activities
NCF APISA and RCAD ASA leadership identified from left to right: Kyla Baldonado, Widya Kendran, Katherine Zhou, Sandra Lee, Cat Ciao, Sammi Chan, Lucy Hsiung, Amari Gutierez and Jade-Rose Konuch. Photo courtesy of Widya Kendran.

New College and Ringling partner for AAPI month activities

New College of Florida’s Asian Pacific Islander Student Association (APISA) and Ringling College of Art and Design’s (RCAD) Asian Student Association (ASA) are two recently founded affinity groups at schools just a stone’s throw from each other. As Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month approaches, the two groups decided to spend a weekend celebrating their cultures through a visit to Ringling Museum’s Center for Asian Art and having a potluck featuring traditional ethnic dishes. 

On April 13th, 2024, the recently elected APISA Vice President and first-year Jade-Rose Konuch rose early to get ready for the museum trip. “This is the first time I’ve held a leadership position in college, it’s a bit nerve-wracking,” she told the Catalyst

Students attending the Ringling Museum identified from left to right: Amari Gutierrez, Lianna Paton, Sandra Lee, Jade-Rose Konuch and Kyla Balonado. Photo by Naomi Nerlien. 

Students met up at the Ringling Museum entrance, exchanged introductions and made their way to the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Center for Asian Art. According to Ringling Museum, “This gallery features the museum’s extensive collection of Chinese ceramics, South and Central Asian sculpture, as well as objects from Japan, Korea and countries of southeast Asia.” 

APISA President and first-year Amari Gutierez admired the new Scholars’ Rocks collection. “I’ve been to the other exhibits before but the rocks were new,” she told The Catalyst. “It was cool seeing the formations they were able to make.”

After visiting all the exhibits, the students sat in a study room filled with children’s books and encyclopedias about different Asian cultures. Here, the students exchanged stories about their academic journeys at their quirky colleges. They swapped stories about favorite classes, unique professors and what they’d miss most about the tight-knit communities after graduation. 

The next day, RCAD’s Alfred R. Goldstein Library patio hosted a potluck for more than 30 hungry students. The ASA and APISA leadership had been collaborating to put together the event for weeks prior. 

Students attending the APISA and ASA Potluck. Photo by Naomi Nerlien. 

Students contributed both homemade dishes and store-bought snacks that decorated the table with various textures, fragrances and spice levels. The environment was relaxed, so students from both schools quickly began mingling and exchanging Instagram usernames. 

First-year Jacob Maunahan said the scene brought him back home. “This reminds me of the festivals we have in the Philippines. Everyone getting together, talking and eating good food.”

Fourth-year Ringling student Janice Park shared her inspiration for bringing her dish. “I brought gochujang cookies! I got the recipe from Eric Kim on the New York Times cooking page and was like ‘Yeah, I’m gonna make those!’ I hope everyone likes them.” Park’s wish was quickly answered as these savory/sweet cookies were among the first to be devoured by the students. 

For another graduating Ringling student, Sandra Lee, this potluck marked the end of her close journey with the ASA. “I started the club last year because I always felt like there was such a great opportunity to create an organization. With such a large Asian population, there’s so many students of color here and I was just confused why we didn’t already have one,” she told The Catalyst

“I’m so happy that I did that because I’ve been able to have so many great experiences starting ASA, meeting so many great people at Ringling and now at New College too,” she said in a speech to the group. Her remarks received a collective “aw” from the crowd followed by a round of applause. 

There was collective agreement that events like these should continue to happen. Ideas such as virtual game nights and anything involving more food were offered and greatly received. Though originating from many nations, these affinity groups help build connections between those with a shared identity. After an exciting weekend, APISA and ASA can’t wait until they can band together again. 

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