Photo by Heather Middleton
By M.J. Subiria Arauz
A large mask of a Chinese, green lion stood on top of a drum, and it seemed to have a twinkle in its eye.
The mask, along with the lion's body, was soon maneuvered by two performers who gave it life and character. A green decorative costume lay upon their hunched backs as they danced to the beat of the drums and cymbals.
As part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, on Wednesday evening, the Clayton State University Office of Campus Life held an "Asian Fusion" event, and the dancing green lion seemed to enjoy himself.
In addition to the lion dance, the festivities included modern Asian music, and Asian cuisine. The celebration was free for students at the university, said Lakiesa Rawlinson, assistant director of the Office of Campus Life.
"We wanted to showcase the diversity in Asian culture," said Rawlinson. "This is the first time we've done anything like this."
The Chinese lion dance was performed my members of the Chien Hong School of Kung Fu, in Atlanta. McKenzie Ewing, a participant at the Chien Hong School of Kung Fu, was one of two performers who maneuvered the green lion. He said it takes a lot of coordination and practice to make the lion's body synchronize, and flow in motion.
"It's all about the mechanics of it," said Ewing.
James Murphy, assistant instructor at the School of Kung Fu, said the event is special to him because he is Chinese and German.
Murphy added that the Chinese lion dance was created about 800 years ago, when a Chinese emperor had a dream of a creature that saved his life. In Chinese tradition, the creature is a lion that brings good luck to audience members watching the performance, he said.
Chase Lawrence, a freshman at the university, seemed to be mesmerized by the abundance and variety of Asian food available to him. The cuisine included: sushi, fried rice, chicken, spring rolls and Thai angel noodles.
Lawrence said he is Hawaiian and African American. He said he attended the event because he wanted to meet other people of the Hawaiian culture. "I love being a Pacific Islander," he exclaimed.
Lysreng Ou, another student at the university, said he is from Cambodia.
Ou said he was pleased with the event. When asked what the festivities meant to him, Ou responded, "Free food."
Assistant Director Rawlinson said the Office of Campus Life collaborated with other university organizations to host the event, including Diversity Education Experiences for Peers and the Campus Events Council.
Christina Miller, educational coordinator for the Campus Events Council, said she was pleased that a lot of the student body came out to celebrate the Asian and Pacific Islander culture.
"I want everybody to enjoy themselves," said Miller, with a smile.