Photo A courtesy of Minh Khuu ’21: Small pieces of mooncake were arranged by the VSA for students to eat on Saturday.
Photo B by Gabby Raymond ’20: Event volunteers Janae Davis ’19, Nyasha Franklin ’19, Johanna Brown ’20, Toni Rankine ’20 and Neorgia Grant ’20 pose with two party-going photo-bombers.
Photo C by Li Qin ’21: AWAZ members serve Indian snacks to festival-goers in the amphitheater.
VSA Mooncake Showcase
BY VICTORIA WANG ’20
The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in different ways across Asia, but almost all celebrations have a shared component: mooncakes. For this year’s festival on Sept. 22, the Vietnamese Student Association held a showcase of the delicious traditional sweet named for its shape of a mid-autumn full moon.
The showcase took place in the Torrey common room where students could sample a variety of flavors including red bean paste and egg yolk. According to Minh Khuu ’21, a member of the Vietnamese Student Association and the host of the showcase, the most authentic mooncakes are stuffed with seasonal foods. The celebration of the harvest festival is represented in stuffing an abundance of autumnal crops inside a treat.
Some who came to the showcase were not just intrigued by the food, but also by the traditional Vietnamese wooden crafts scattered around the room. “[The festival] is not just about mooncake, but rather a show of many ‘hidden gems’ of the Vietnamese culture,” said Ngan Tran ’21, who helped organize the event. “When people think of Vietnam, they think of Pho or Banh Mi, but our culture is much richer than that. This mooncake showcase gives a chance for us to show people more about Vietnam than just the common knowledge.”
Other than paying tribute to the Fall harvest, the mooncake calls for a reunion of families. According to Khuu, the mooncake showcase was brought back to life after a year of absence — the College’s Vietnamese student community widely applauded its return, and saw it as a chance to find a sense of belonging during a particularly festive time of year.
BY GABBY RAYMOND ’20
Chapin Auditorium transformed into a dance hall for Wahala by Mount Holyoke’s Afro-Caribbean Student Association (MHACASA), on Sept. 22.
As students neared Mary Woolley Hall they could hear the cheers of people from the Five Colleges and the surrounding areas. Soukeyna Abbott ’20, the African Intercollegiate Representative of MHACASA, said that people come from as far as American International College in Springfield because “it’s an opportunity to dance to familiar music and be around people from areas near [them].”
Abbott, who is from Senegal, commented that there are not many places in the Pioneer Valley to dance to Afrobeat, soca or dancehall music. The distinct rhythmic styles of the songs made it impossible for her not to dance. The dimly-lit room, illuminated only by flashes from phone cameras, the DJ’s booth and the colorful lights strung up along the balcony, was filled with a sea of dancers. With the heavy beat reverberating through the building, attendees were easily transported to a dance club in the Caribbean.
Nyasha Franklin ’19 came to Wahala because Mount Holyoke is known for its parties in the Valley area. “It’s not like other events in the Five College area; it’s catered to a certain audience,” she said. “There are some Black Student Union (BSU) events and Smith parties are getting there, but no one beats our parties.”
Wahala was the fifth annual all-black affair hosted by MHACASA — they will continue to host parties all year-round.
AWAZ Rang de Basanti
BY GABBY RAYMOND ’20
The amphitheater lit up with dancing, laughter and colorful lights during Rang de Basanti, an annual event put on by the South Asian Student Association (AWAZ) on Friday night.
According to Amal Fadoo ’20, the head of AWAZ, the event is not a cultural tradition; instead it’s “overall just a fun way for us to represent [South Asian] culture at MoHo.” Previous members of AWAZ started Rang de Basanti as their own Mount Holyoke tradition. This year, students gathered outside for food and the warmth of community despite the evening chill settling over the crisp fall night.
One of the function’s biggest draws was, of course, the snacks that were served: savory vegetable samosas and ample amounts of crunchy, crispy and tangy masala chana chaat. The participants, which included students from the Five Colleges, flocked to the booth where food was being served to enjoy some of India’s most popular appetizers.
Rang de Basanti is usually held in the spring, but the new AWAZ board felt it would be better placed in the fall due to the larger volume of events to compete with in the spring. Juhi Shah ’20, captain of the Mount Holyoke Bhangra team, felt the party was still a success in the fall. “[The event] sets a good atmosphere for those who want to socialize and also bond with existing friends,” Shah said. “I invited my whole bhangra team so we could bond and have fun on a Friday night.”
The ambience of the lively music and colorful lights even prompted the Bhangra team to perform an impromptu dance when the song “Mi Gente,” which is in their performance set, came on. The traditional North Indian dancing and flavorful food brought a little bit of South Asian heat to the mild Massachusetts night.
CSA Mid-Autumn Festival
BY CHRISTINE XIAO ’21
The Chinese Student Association (CSA) hosted an event celebrating the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, usually celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese cultures, on Sept. 22. The festival is for family and friends to come together and give thanks for harmonious unions and a fruitful harvest, as well as praying for a better future.
The event began with traditional Chinese music performances. Miao Zhang ’21 played “Horse Racing” by Erhu, a song that describes a happy scene of Chinese herdsmen riding on the grassland with courage and freedom. Following Zhang’s piece was a performance by Lilian Lin ’21 on the zither, portraying the beauty of the Tang Dynasty with her traditional piece. Ren Zhao ’22 followed with a song relaying her best wishes to international students unable to reunite with their families at this time. Students were treated to bubble tea and mooncakes while enjoying the different performances, which were followed by a screening of the movie “Go Brother!”
Tianxin Jiang ’20, one of the co-chairs of CSA, felt the event gave students a much-needed feeling of home. “As international students, we [sometimes] feel homesick during this reunion festival,” she said. “However, we are so grateful that we get [the] chance to celebrate it with our MoHo community, our second home.”
The event also attracted many students who are interested in Asian culture. Tori Gernert-Dott ’20 came to the event at the request of a few of her friends from China. “Everyone here is so welcoming,” she said. “They introduced traditional Chinese culture to us patiently — I’d love to learn more about it in the future.”