Mid-Autumn festival a hit with students

Nga Nguyen, an Alumni of Western Kentucky University, helps hand out traditional Vietnamese snacks at the mid-autumn festival on Friday, October 20. The event was sponsored by the Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean student organizations on WKU’s campus. The festival, also referred to as the moon festival, gave students and community members the opportunity to experience and learn about three different Asian cultures.

Matt Stahl

The Confucius Institute at WKU hosted the second annual Mid-Autumn Festival on Friday evening.

The Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese student associations all had tables at the event, which was held from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Confucius Institute building. The festival was introduced last year as part of WKU’s international year of South Korea.

The festival is held to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is a harvest festival originally celebrated in China and Vietnam that spread to other parts of Asia, including South Korea.

WKU graduate student and president of WKU’s Korean student association, Teyun Park, of Seoul, South Korea, said that the Mid-Autumn Festival is important in Asian cultures.

“We thought it would it would be great to celebrate our shared holy day together,” Park said. “We decided to do this, it is the Mid-Autumn Festival, which we celebrate on the same day based on the lunar calendar across east Asia.”

Park said that the Mid-Autumn Festival in Korea is a celebration hoping for a good harvest.

“We celebrate this day to wish for luck for the future,” Park said. “We pray for our ancestor[s] so that they will give us good luck.”

All of the countries represented offered a sampling of their traditional cuisine, including the Chinese Student Association, who both served and gave a tutorial on how to make moon cakes and the Vietnamese Student Association, who served a traditional fruitcake and green tea with milk. The Korean Student Association served several dishes, including songpyeon, which is a rice cake with various fillings.

The volunteers who helped run the event came largely from WKU’s Chinese Music Club and Project Pengyou, which seeks to build bridges between American and Asian cultures by putting on educational events.

Knoxville sophomore Victoria Hans, a member of both the Chinese Flagship program and Project Pengyou, said that the Mid-Autumn Festival was a good way to get the word out about their group and also a good opportunity for the group to practice advertising their events.

“We see what ways of advertising work for our projects and what methods don’t,” Hans said. “This will give us ideas for new projects and hopefully we can get people’s contact information so we can inform them about other Chinese culture events in the future.”

Besides the food, popular elements of the event included traditional Asian attire, Chinese karaoke and four Kahoot trivia games, which allowed participants to use their smartphones to sign in and answer questions about the represented countries’ culture and history in hopes of winning a prize.

While the event was largely attended by students from the organizations represented and Chinese Flagship students, members of other groups were also in attendance. Alisa Weston, a sophomore from Louisville and a member of the Korean Pop Culture Club, said she enjoyed the Korean songpyeon and the Chinese moon cakes.

Weston said she had attended previous events at the Confucius Institute and she thinks that events such as the Mid-Autumn Festival are beneficial to both the groups involved and to students outside of those groups.

“I think that what they get out of being here is that they are able to make connections,” Weston said. “They make connections with people across the world and learn about a culture that is different than their own, and we get to learn about theirs in return.”

Reporter Matt Stahl can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].