Every year, the student-run cultural evening Sangai Asia is organized by the club of the same name to celebrate Asian cultures and the students who represent them on Bates’ campus. The event’s title is fitting: the word Sangai is a combination of two Hindi words SANG and AI and translates to coming together to promote solidarity. This year’s performance took place on the 25th of January.
The show was a great success. The night was full of vibrant performances put together by extremely talented individuals. The success of the show can be largely attributed to the teamwork of performers and organizers. Each year without fail, new performers contribute to the show and surprise the audience with their outstanding work.
On Friday, the Bates Gamelan team opened the show, followed by the Bates Otaku dance team. The show also included Bates Taiko club, 2Beats and the Bollywood dance team, all of which performed beautifully choreographed pieces. Mark Su ’22, Wanyi Lu ’19 and Yichun Liu ’21 played ‘Laputa’ by Joe Hisaishi and Ursula Rall ’20 performed a Japanese folk song called ‘Kojo no Tsuki’ on cello with Mathieu Moutou ’22.
Additionally, the audience was treated to two solo dance performances: MinAh Kim ’20 danced on a K-pop song called ‘solo’, by Jennie from Blackpink and Chelsea Anglin ’19 sang a song ‘Xiao Xing Yun’.
Importantly, Sangai Asia is completely student run. From back stage crew and publicity for the show to the choreographers of each performance, students are not only responsible for putting together a successful show, but also for a smooth production process. Students get involved with the show on a volunteer basis; being a part of the show on any level means putting in a lot of dedication and hard work. This allows the Sanagi Asia platform to be a positive space to build community through shared passions and interests.
I choreographed the Bollywood dance pieces with two other choreographers on the dance team, Kayleigh McLean ’19 and Anjali Thomke ’19 and doing so was an extremely fulfilling process. It was a delight to share this experience with so many other people who not only showed interest and enthusiasm in being a part of the Bollywood performance, but also made sure they gave the performance their all.
Events such as Sangai Asia are extremely important for the Bates community. Bates has been working towards creating a more diverse community on campus. However, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. Promoting student organized cultural events is an important step towards greater diversity in campus culture and programming. People of color on campus from cultures across the globe need to feel recognized and appreciated for what they contribute to Bates.
Within a community that tries to take active initiatives towards inclusivity and diversity, it is very important to validate the presence of cultural minorities by providing them with opportunities such as Sangai Asia. That being said, I cannot speak for the entire POC community on campus. When I get to share my Indian culture through Bollywood dances with other students on campus, I feel more welcomed and acknowledged for despite of my cultural differences from the majority at Bates.