Students Perform, Celebrate Asian Night Market

For the first time since 2019, the campus gathered at Asian Night Market, an event complete with food, art, and performances from a number of Asian diasporic organizations on campus. Asian Night Market was created in 2011 to replicate the kinds of markets common in different parts of Asia. The event strives to give Asian students a chance to engage with their cultural heritage while also providing non-Asian students an opportunity to learn about these traditions. 

College fourth-year Sarah Wong performed at Asian Night Market with Oberlin College Taiko. She talked about the festival’s ability to teach others about Asian diasporic cultures.

“This is a chance for us to showcase the most fun parts of our cultures and also some of the most accessible parts of our cultures,” she said. “One of the things about culture is that it’s hard to learn about if you don’t know it’s there. Asian Night Market gives students a chance to get exposed to things.” 

College third-year Dina Nouaime sold tote bags adorned with photos of her oil paintings at the event. Nouaime decided to donate the money she earned to Red Canary Song, a grassroots coalition that advocates for the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers. The return of the Market this year was particularly meaningful to her, given harmful rhetoric that emerged during the pandemic. 

“It brings all of us together who are part of the community,” she said. “It also allows an opportunity for others outside the community to educate themselves on our cultural traditions, especially in the wake of this uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes because of COVID and all this harmful rhetoric that’s going around with our politicians. … It’s really important to band together.” 

Both Wong and Nouaime agreed that Asian Night Market provided them with a sense of support from the Oberlin community, offering them a space of belonging that isn’t always available on campus.

“There’s just some kind of power and pride in being able to showcase our art form at an event like that,” Wong said. “That we were able to express ourselves loudly and proudly in this space where we knew we were supported and we knew that we had something to contribute was really something that we don’t always get in other performance spaces.” 

Nouaime echoed the sentiment, offering advice to other students who may be struggling to find affinity spaces on campus.

“It’s just a reminder of how much support you can get from the Oberlin community,” she said. “It’s all there — you just kind of have to know where to look.”