In 2018, the beauty and breadth of APIDA student culture was set in stone — literally — with the opening of the APIDA Student Center, housed within UW–Madison’s Red Gym. “The APIDA Student Center has a foundation in student activism and coalition building,” said Daniel Sanji x’22, the center’s cultural programming intern, in a fall 2020 video tour of the space. It’s a place for APIDA-identifying students to “critically engage their racial development, as well as build communities of support in UW–Madison.” But for decades prior to the center’s opening, APIDA-centered student organizations helped students connect and learn, all while sharing and celebrating the diversity within the APIDA community. From forums to benefits to fashion shows, take a trip through time with these event posters, each promoting a unique event hosted by some of the UW’s many APIDA student organizations.
In 2015, the Asian American Student Union (AASU) hosted a panel discussion called “Asian American Women in Comics and Illustration.” The group hosts numerous events each year, including talks, movie nights, and its time-honored Fambam competition. In 2020, the AASU celebrated its 50-year anniversary on campus.
For decades, the UW has celebrated what today is APIDA Heritage Month in a variety of forms. This schedule of events highlights the 1991 festivities, including a conversation with renowned author Amy Tan. Nowadays, an umbrella theme is selected to guide the month’s events; the 2021 theme is “The Spaces in Between,” asking the critical question of what does it mean to be Asian Pacific Islander Desi American?
Also presented by the AASU, this poster features a spring fashion show, held at the Memorial Union theater during Asian American Heritage month in 2002. That year’s theme was “Igniting the Asian Conscience.”
This poster highlights the 1991 Korean Cultural Day festivities held on campus. Today’s Korean American Student Association has more than 1,000 Facebook followers, and the group hosts events including food drives, dance workshops, and game nights.
Spring 1990 saw the first of many educational conferences sponsored by the UW’s Hmong American Student Association — or HASA. This poster promotes the 1991 conference, which focused on the theme: “The Historical, Educational, and Social Transitions of the Hmong.” The conference eventually became a biennial spring conference, the last of which — “The Millennial Storycloth” — happened in 2018.
The India Students Association, founded in the 1950s, is one of the UW’s oldest cultural organizations. This poster advertises the 1999 fall semester kick-off dance, held in the now-demolished Gordon Commons.
In September 1990, the India Students Association hosted a concert with Imrat Khan, an award-winning sitar and surbahar player and composer.
What cultural events did you attend while on campus? Share your memories (and photos!) with us and we’ll add them to this gallery.