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More than just a meal

ASU brings cultural awareness and connectivity through shared food
Max Bykowski
ASU Potluck with group leaders and members gathering to share different Asian cuisine from various regions

A savory smell floats through the air, food piled on the middle of a table in the center of the club room. People of all different cultural backgrounds and grades crowd around it. Stacks of fried rice, spring rolls, cookies and mochi are put onto their plates. They return to their tables, talking and joking warmly with the people around them.  

Asian Student Union (ASU) is a club that aims to create a community for Asian and non-Asian students alike at BHS. Led by seniors Justene Li and Mirabel Petersen, ASU is open to anyone interested in learning about Asian culture. 

“It’s not for just Asian students to learn about culture,” Petersen said. “It’s for everyone to learn and have fun. [All] students come from different backgrounds.” 

ASU has been hosting potlucks and festivals even before Li and Petersen became the presidents. They’ve done Lunar New Year festivals, mid-autumn festivals, end-of-year dessert parties and other holiday celebrations.  

“It’s an Asian culture thing,” Li said. “Bringing everyone together and showing your love through food.”  

ASU hosts potlucks allowing for there to be a shared connection over something delicious. Food unites people who may have never talked before.  

“There’s a lot of fun and importance in coming together,” Li said. “Especially when you’re all from different backgrounds. You get to eat food; you get to talk to new people.” 

Many other cultural clubs are entwined within each other, especially with Multicultural Student Union (MSU). Clubs bring vastly different groups of people together. 

“Any student union is honestly really important,” Li said. “You can both share culture [and] also build that community.”  

Community is key, not just within student unions, but in BHS as a whole. 

“ASU [is] not just for our benefit,” Petersen said. “We want to support other cultural unions [and] all of the students at Ballard.” 

According to US Cities & Towns, close to 75% percent of all students at BHS are white. Cultural solidarity, representation and education are especially necessary in predominantly white schools. 

“In general, [something important is] educating people,” Li said. “Especially with big issues, in freshman year we talked a lot about the Asian hate from COVID.”  

Everyone is welcome to join because everyone has something to learn, no matter what their cultural background is. 

“I feel like a lot of people ask, like, ‘Oh, are you sure it’s okay for me to join because I’m not Asian?’” Li said. “We’re like, yeah, everyone’s welcome. When people bring in food, it doesn’t have to be Asian.”  

The potlucks act as links between different people, bringing them together with something they love.  

“It’s something that I look forward to,” Petersen said. “I have my community there.”

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