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Asian New Year Celebration led by Southeast Center students
Photos and Story by James Hill
Do you know about the Asian New Year Celebration? There’s a couple of students who’d like to have a word with you.
Naho Katagiri and Jeremy Selinger are leading the charge to inform, organize and promote the Southeast Center’s annual signature event that draws hundreds of people from the community to PCC. This year it’s the “Year of the Snake” and will feature music, entertainment, food, vendors, door prizes and much more.
“It’s our biggest event that we do here at the campus and is really important to the culture around the Southeast area,” Selinger said. “It’s exciting to see how the community comes and interacts.”
The duo along with a cadre of 20 student volunteers primarily from ASPCC-Southeast are going into classrooms to pitch the event. But a big component is honoring and inviting Southeast Portland’s abundance of Asian cultures, from Chinese to Vietnamese to Thai to Indian and Japanese and more, to the event. Katagiri, who is studying accounting and is an international student from Japan, said it’s this welcoming of Southeast Portland’s cultures that is the focus of the event.
“There are so many Asian communities here,” said Katagiri, who is chair of the Asian New Year Celebration planning committee and is an international student advocate for ASPCC. “It’s a very good opportunity to create relationships with our community. In my culture we celebrate differently so it’s very interesting to me. Even though I’m Asian, I am still learning from people of other countries like Vietnam and China. And I’m excited about the entertainment. We have many dances that I haven’t seen before.”
The students are working hard. Many are performing in the event as well as staffing it, from directing traffic to ticket-taking or organizing the food and videos. Plus, many are canvassing the entire surrounding community to make sure everyone is involved and aware of the celebration.
“It’s very important to include different cultures,” said Selinger, who is graduating in the spring with a transfer degree in business. “Especially because this area is lot more diverse than people really realize. When you focus on one group and leave out another it’s really easy to have people feel excluded in the community. With our focus on bringing in the community we really focus on all the groups.
“The whole event is run by students,” he added. “I’ve been watching Naho and she’s done a really good job putting every together, organizing teammates and volunteers, and getting out there in the community and interacting.”
This will be the first time they’ve helped out with the Asian New Year Celebration, which is in its 11th year. The celebration starts promptly at 11:30 a.m., Monday, Feb. 18 at Warner Pacific College’s McGuire Auditorium (SE Division St. and 68th Ave.). Admission is $3 for the community, $1 for students and free for children who are under 12. Prior to the event there will be an International Market hosted at PCC’s Southeast Center’s Great Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The International Market includes a showcase of cultures by students and samples of food.
The reason for the switch to Warner Pacific for the main event is that PCC is transforming the Southeast Center into a comprehensive, full-service campus. The old location for the celebration – Legin Restaurant – has been leveled to make way for bond construction.
“I definitely see excitement,” Sellinger said of his fellow students’ reaction to the construction. “It’s really exciting. Out here, it’s a community and we want to build and get better. As we grow, we want the community around us to grow as well.”