Moon festival holiday celebrates diversity


Narita Lambert

A group of students enjoy the food and atmosphere at the Moonlight Festival in Wallenberg Hall on Friday, Sept. 24.

Etta Brooks

The Moon Festival, widely celebrated in Asian cultures and one of the topmost celebrated holidays in China, was hosted on Sept. 24 by the Asian Student Organization, the Vietnamese Student Association and the Office of International Students and Scholar Service.

The Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, symbolizes family unity through a variety of activities including the sharing of food, especially mooncakes, feast lanterns and moon gazing.

“The celebration is around the day the moon is at its fullest and brightest which encourages family gatherings and reunions,” Xong Sony Yang, director of international students and scholar services, said.

Yang expressed immense excitement for this collaboration and extended gratitude to the two cultural groups executives for not only bringing their group members together, but also the Augustana Asian community, even if the festival is not wholly celebrated throughout Asia.

“[Mid-autumn] serves with global perspectives, it helps with our domestic students understanding culture from across seas. It serves as our international students maintaining their identity. It serves as cultural diversity in bringing a new element of heritage, culture and tradition here,” Yang said.

More than 100 students from diverse backgrounds gathered to observe this festive holiday. A beautifully decorated backdrop painted with theme-specific items, including a large symbolic moon, was routinely occupied with individuals and pairs taking photos. Some students wore traditional attire, and everyone was given lanterns to decorate. There were raffles, video presentations about the origin, meaning and significance of Mid-autumn, food and a dance performance by the Augustana multicultural dance group UNYK.

First-year Iratze Aceves loves to learn about other cultures and sees Augustana as a community where people value celebrating their cultures.

“As a Mexican American, I remember being very excited talking to people about what your culture is, your language, customs and traditions. And I feel like our community here has that same spirit where they also want to express and share part of their culture and customs,” Aceves said.

Students encourage their peers to learn about other cultures:

“The best way to be more accepting of others is learning about others [and] pushing towards progress,” Aceves said.

“Do not be afraid to go to cultural events,” first-year Mackenzie Monroy said. Monroy is a member of UNYK, and part of the reason she volunteered to dance at the festival stemmed from her curiosity to learn about diverse cultures.

“Just have fun,” a student in the video presentation at the beginning of the event advised. As observed, people had a wonderful time and learned and celebrated a culture they represent or of diverse cultures.

Sony Yang sent shoutouts to everyone that participated in making the event successful: VSA and ASO presidents Hieu and Joyce, OISSS staff, UNYK and all the students that volunteered.

Sony Yang anticipates more collaboration with cultural groups and hopes the Moon Festival becomes a signature event that could extend beyond Augustana.

“I hope that this becomes a signature event for the Asian student organizations on campus … in the future, we look to collaborate with the Quad Cities Asian community to be a part of this as well, so that we get a diversity of different perspectives,” Yang said.