TASA talks diversity at paper lantern event

For The News-Letter

Accompanied by Taiwanese music, students joined the Hopkins Taiwanese American Students Association (TASA) in Charles Commons Salon C on Thursday to design and paint unique paper lanterns for their dorm rooms.

Students mainly designed sky lanterns, which are small hot air balloons made of paper that are primarily, but not exclusively, flown at the annual lantern festival in Pingxi, Taiwan. Festival attendees traditionally write their wishes on the lanterns, light them up and release them into the sky. TASA adapted this tradition for the event to allow Hopkins students to learn about and immerse themselves in Taiwanese culture in a fun way.

Juniors Evelyn Ho and Brynda Tsai, co-presidents of TASA, spoke about the cultural significance of the sky lanterns and their desire to share them with the Hopkins community.

“Our mission is to promote Taiwanese cultural awareness, and the sky lanterns are a big part of it. When you go to Taiwan, it’s a really fun thing to do with your friends, so we wanted to bring that here,” Tsai said.

Ho and Tsai said that TASA’s goal in hosting events is to stimulate interest, discussion and understanding of Taiwanese culture. The craft’s practical use as dorm room decorations has shown that traditional Taiwanese arts and crafts have the capacity to bring people together.

Students responded positively to the event.

“I was just looking for something to decorate my room with and put back Asian culture into my room. It’s pretty bland right now,” freshman Alex Doran, a member of Hopkins’ Japanese Student International, said. “It’s a nice stress reducing activity too.”

Ho and Tsai expressed their satisfaction with the assorted turn-out.

“We always try to be very inclusive. Our crowds usually do run in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, but we’re trying to diversify and trying to spread our culture to more than just what is considered our target demographic,” Ho said.

Ho also outlined TASA’s more general fundamental goals and highlighted planned future activities for executing those objectives.

“Our mission is to try to spread Taiwanese culture and start discussions about the Taiwanese culture in general,” Ho said.

“We’re really trying to increase the level of discussion across campus to more than just the different types of food, the types of arts and crafts… trying to talk about our own identities.”

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