Kimchi Festival

 

East Asia Institute’s inaugural “Kimchi Festival” brought Korean culture, history and tradition to UTSA on Oct. 22 in a fun-filled and family-friendly environment.

The festival is held in honor of kimchi, the national dish of Korea. Kimchi is a Korean staple created from cabbage, spices, shrimp, and oils.

Fourteen booths in the University Center containing numerous activities ranging from arts and crafts, to trivia games surrounded the entrance area of the festival providing people of all ages with entertainment. Each booth fully captured a particular corner of Korean culture. At one booth, there were trivia games with questions ranging from geographical to historical facts. A few booths over, children received the opportunity to craft colorful Korean folding paper, creating cute bow ties, fun little animals and oriental folding fan. The next booth over presented information on two programs that are open to college students world-wide: Talk and Epik. Each program’s purpose is to increase the number of bilingual students by opening more doors for them in the future through educating them in the skill of speaking Korean.

Not only was the event fun for the entire family, it also served an educational purpose with demonstrations and presentations on Korea’s current economy, social stand and future opportunities. Prestigious speakers such as Consul Young-Ho Son, consulate general of the Republic of Korea in Houston, and Jai Hun Yang M.D., president of the Korean American Association of S.A., all gave their welcoming remarks to jump start a line of lively performances on traditional dances and songs.

First to perform was a group of middle school students, each equipped with their own Korean drum, reenacting Korea’s Harvest Dance, also known as, the Changgo Dance. Following their charming performance was a more professional Korean Dance Team from the Korean American Cultural Center of S.A., with their upbeat Mondumbuk Korean Drum routine. No Korean performance is complete without a sing-along with the audience and performers of Korea’s classic- A Ri Rang, led by B.J. Yang of the Korean American Association of S.A.

The diverse audience enjoyed themselves; especially when it came time to taste all 17 delectable Korean dishes and kimchis. After interviewing two UTSA students with full plates, they both gave the food ‘two-thumbs up’.

Even though the event was made for 200 people, there were 400 plus in attendance. Wondering how San Antonio matched up against Houston, I asked Consulate Son from the Republic of Korea in Houston how he thought San Antonio did. Defending his city he smiled and said, “Houston and Dallas have a bigger Korean community beating San Antonio by 20,000. So naturally, events in Houston are catered to a much larger audience. Size-wise, San Antonio can’t compete with Houston’s Asian community; however, this event was well organized and next year it needs to be bigger, so come support, share our role!”

Professor Mimi Yu, president of UTSA’s East Asia Institute, stressed the importance and educational value of this event by stating that, “multilingual students will have more opportunities in, not only the political arena, but also in the business world. And I think we need to train our students to be global… to know more about countries outside the United States, particularly in Asia.” According to Yu, the purpose of the Kimchi Festival is to “help promote understanding and appreciation of the Korean language and cultural, but also to help stimulate interest among our students and the community to really pay more attention to what Asia is like.”

Informative, fun, creative, lively and educational, UTSA’s first inaugural “Kimchi Festival” was a big step in bringing Korean culture to San Antonio. 

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