The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

View this profile on Instagram

The Torch (@sju_torch) • Instagram photos and videos

Photo Courtesy / YouTube Jojo Siwa
Jojo Siwa’s Bad Karma
Catherine Pascal, Staff Writer • May 3, 2024
Torch Photo / Anya Geiling
Live Show Spotlight: Roger Eno
Anya Geiling, Contributing Writer • April 30, 2024
Torch Photo / Olivia Rainson
Speed Dating Your Prospective Professors
Isabella Acierno, Outreach Manager • April 29, 2024

Asian and Pacific-American Heritage Month Celebration Concludes with “The Debut”

The event celebrated the origins of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures at SJU.
Torch Photo / Isabella Cautero

The St. John’s University Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) hosted its final event of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APHM) on April 25 at Taffner Field House. “The Debut: Variety Show and Talent Showcase” started at 5:00 p.m. and lasted two hours. The event hosted traditional games, a spread of food to enjoy and performances from St. John’s University students and groups. 

“The Debut” concluded the month-long recognition of APHM that cultivated six different events split between the Staten Island and Queens campus on the way to “the road to your debut.” In Filipino culture “the debut” is a traditional coming-of-age celebration at a person’s 18th birthday.

 According to OMA, the APHM is nationally celebrated in May and “pays tribute to the rich and diverse cultures, legacies, traditions, and contributions made by Asian and Pacific Islander individuals and communities.” 

During the opening statement of the event, a moment of silence was prompted for the ancestral lands of the Matinecock, Rockaway, Lenape and Canarsie Peoples that St. John’s University occupies. 

The night’s festivities were in collaboration with Alpha Psi Omega, Chappell Players Theatre Group, Arab Students Organization, Indo-Caribbean Students Association and St. John’s K-Dance. 

APHM began with a mental health panel on April 4 on the Queens campus and included a Ramadan Iftar, a creative workshop, a cooking class and a fiesta. Elizabeth Ponce de Leon, the assistant director for culture and identity-based services at OMA, spoke to The Torch about the month leading up to “The Debut.”  

“Our goal was to touch upon different aspects of what it takes to come into your own debut,” Ponce de Leon said. “I’m pretty happy with the turnout. Hopefully, everyone learned about the different cultures in Asia as well as the traditional games.” 

Third-year psychology student Mahalee Dalisay is the student manager of the OMA and was the host of the evening. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was not able to celebrate her debut on her 18th birthday. 

“It’s your coming of age and coming to society, and that’s how you’re recognized,” Dalisay said. “I got my own one today.” 

Dalisay introduced each evening performance, which was kicked off with a dance routine from SJU K-Dance, a performing group that dances to Korean Popular music (K-Pop). 

For the rest of the night the multiple performances from other groups, such as a dance from Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, were broken up with interactive games such as Rock-Paper-Scissors involving an inflatable hammer toy to hit your opponent with. Each ended with the prize of a smiski, a collectible figurine toy originating from Japan. 

Torch Photo / Isabella Cautero

Lasya Boddu, the student coordinator for the Heritage Month council within the OMA and the producer of “The Debut” spoke to The Torch about the variety of student organizations that were in collaboration with them for the evening. 

According to Boddu,  the council wanted to seek performance-based groups that fit within their theme of the evening and tap into connections within the St. John’s community. Among those groups was St. John’s alumni DJ Zeke, who played music throughout the entire night. 

Boddu was born in the United States but raised in India until she finished high school at 17 years old. Her heritage, combined with the passion she has for event management is what got her involved with the OMA and prompted her to set up events such as the APHM programming. 

The OMA also hosted four local food vendors from around Queens, including Indian food from Tikka and Talk and Thai food from Chill D Taste Thai. The spread consisted of massaman curry with beef, rib tips, chicken biryani, vegetable kimbap and more traditional courses in Asian cuisine. 

The intimate audience of about 50 people was fully engaged throughout the night. Veronica Belgiovine, a sophomore business major, attended the event with two of her friends in support of the dancers and performers. 

“The whole community was able to come together and show each and every culture, especially to people who aren’t really familiar with it,” Belgiovine said. 

“The Debut” concluded the month of celebration for the OMA at St. John’s University.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Torch
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of St. John's University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Isabella Cautero
Isabella Cautero, Sports Editor
Isabella is a senior journalism major serving as the Sports Editor for The Torch. She is minoring in sport management. Outside of The Torch, she works as an academic tutor at the University Learning Commons. She likes to spend time with her friends, read, play with her dog and watch the New York Rangers or Yankees. On any given day you can find her listening to her favorite artists, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles. Isabella can be reached at [email protected].
Donate to The Torch
Our Goal

Comments (0)

We love comments and feedback, but we ask that you please be respectful in your responses.
All The Torch Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *