EPIC brings culture awareness to Delta

APIASA and EPIC with the Hmong performers.

On Nov. 9, Delta College celebrated Hmong New Year with a fundraiser and traditional dancing.

Hmong New Year is celebrated after the harvest season in Laos, usually between November and December.

On campus, an event was hosted by Empowering Positive Initiative for Change (EPIC) and the Asian Pacific Islander American Staff Association (APIASA).

At the event, EPIC sold chicken teriyaki bowls for $10.

EPIC is a new club started last semester, with only three members. It’s grown ever since.

Although the club is new, the program has been going on for a while now.

“We like to help each one of us get a better feeling of leadership,” said EPIC president, Oryan Kuch. “We try to educate everybody about how every Asian American was discriminated and how they have a lot of hardships.”

That’s not all they do. A club objectives is to learn about culture, background and history.

Another goal is to motivate and prepare today’s Asian Pacific Islander (API) college students to become tomorrow’s API leaders through classes and activities that foster educational achievement, personal empowerment and civic engagement, according to the EPIC pamphlet.

The EPIC members classes together are included in the program. There are even specific classes only EPIC members can take.

“The program, the learning community, we take all the classes together, everyone in the program. It makes the learning experience a lot better. Everybody knows everybody,” Kuch said.

Shortly after the event started, the daughters of Dr. Cheuyengther Xiong performed traditional Hmong dances that they choreographed themselves.

“I’ve been going the Hmong dances for the Lao family of Stockton for a few years, then I started doing it for events like this,” said Kengluang Xiong, the older sister.

She and her sister Lytxia are seven years apart.

“I like how you get to learn about new things everyday,” said Lytxia, when asked about what she liked most about learning about her culture.

The sisters performed three dances.

Hmong dances serve as a form of entertainment and celebration for the New Year, graduation, parties and weddings, as well as small family events.

It was Xiong’s idea to get his daughters to perform for the event.

“I support them[his daughters] in whatever they’re doing, they like to do it … this is to also get them involved, otherwise they don’t know about who they are. When they know their culture, they’re willing to identify who they are and they really enjoy it,” said Dr. Xiong. “The younger generation, if you don’t do something fun, this is one way to expose yourself to your culture. If they learn [about it], it’s fun for them and they learn the history through it, and they can get more into their Hmong community as well.”

According to Professor Debra Louie, also a member of APIASA, the group was lucky to be able to do this event to celebrate the New Year whole at the same time exposing Delta College to some culture.

“Our Delta community can be aware of it[the culture] and benefit from it because of the different diversity of the culture,” said Louie.

Louie said this fundraiser was possible because of the cooperation between the EPIC student club and APIASA.

“Both organizations have their own goals and objectives. APIASA raises money for our student scholarships that they will award at the end of the academic year,” Louie said. “We come together because we all believe in trying to represent the College, to bring diversity and to understand and support each other in terms of whatever goals we have.”

APIASA wants to create opportunities for students to thrive and be successful, because that’s what education did for them and they wanted to pass it on.

Xiong and Louie said this association was here for the students because they want them to succeed.

The group wants to make everyone feel like they have a place and a sense of belonging.

“As you can see from today, it was beautiful. All the people, all the students here, they all enjoyed it,” said Louie. “That’s the message we want to say: to be positive…to really make the best of why we’re here and to learn as much as we can from each other.”