Luther College’s Asian Student Association and Allies celebrates 40th Anniversary with series of events this spring
DECORAH, IOWA—Luther College’s Asian Student Association and Allies (ASAA) continues to celebrate 40 years on campus with a series of events including lectures, performances and a Center Stage Series concert this spring. The organization was founded in 1984 by students who were largely from Southeast Asia.
“Today, Luther has 58 international students from 13 Asian countries, as well as Asian-American students,” said Adrianna Tam, assistant professor of music and faculty advisor to ASAA. “As a second generation Asian-American myself, I am impressed by these and all of our international students not only because I have studied abroad myself, thousands of miles from home, but also because my parents first came to this country to pursue higher education.”
Campus Ministries will host an ASAA celebration chapel at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 16, in the Center for Faith and Life’s Main Hall. Brian Caton, professor of history at Luther, will speak on the history of ASAA and Tam will provide musical selections.
At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17, in Noble Recital Hall, Luther’s music department will ring in the Lunar New Year with A Thousand Tongues: An AAPI Recital with highly acclaimed AAPI musicians from the Twin Cities area along with Aurora and Collegiate Chorale. The program will celebrate Asian and Asian-American identities through song and storytelling.
Grace Ji-Sun Kim will give the Sihler Lecture, “Theology of Visibility,” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 5, in the Center for Faith and Life’s Recital Hall. In 2021, she published “Invisible,” a book on theology. Kim is also the host of Madang, a podcast which discusses topics such as Christianity, religion and culture.
At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10, in Noble Recital Hall, Tam will perform along with her mother, Jing-Ling Tam. Jing-Ling Tam is a professor of choral and vocal arts at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Lydia X. Z. Brown will give the Price Distinguished Lecture, “Until We All Are Free: Disability Justice Interventions in Queer, Trans, Feminist Movements,” Wednesday, March 13, at 6 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life’s Recital Hall. Price is a queer, disabled and East Asian advocate, organizer, attorney, strategist and writer. They also serve as the director of public policy at the National Disability Institute and are the founding executive director of the Autistic People of Color Fund.
Small Island Big Song will perform for the final Center Stage Series concert of the year at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in the CFL’s Main Hall. The collective is composed of artists and performers from 16 island nations across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Tickets are available to purchase through the Luther Ticket Office.
History of ASAA
The ASAA was founded Feb. 14, 1984, as the Asian Student Association as a way for Asian students, who, at the time, were largely Southeast Asian refugees and first-generation immigrants from countries like Laos and Cambodia. The organization’s members aimed to advocate and organize for themselves on Luther’s campus.
The students came to Luther through an English as a Second Language (ESL) program, which was designed to help students access Luther’s liberal arts education.
The ASAA wanted to showcase their members’ cultures to the campus and Decorah community. In 1984, they organized the first Ethnic Arts Festival, featuring food, music and other performances. This event was so popular that it was celebrated annually until 2020. In the early 2000s, the group added “allies” to their name in order to include a wider audience on campus.
About Luther College
At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.