Western Washington University’s Ethnic Student Center brings back its annual Night Market on May 21. Ethnic student clubs will gather together at Red Square to fundraise and celebrate reaching the end of the academic year.
The night market is typically held each spring quarter, but the student body has not seen this event in two years due to COVID-19.
The clubs will put up booths around the fountain at Red Square as well as on the lawn of Old Main to sell snacks, foods and merchandise like they did in spring 2019.
According to current Filipino-American Student Association President, Gretchen Visperas, in the past years, the market also featured a variety of entertainment such as food vendors, henna, inflatable slides and music.
“There was singing, dancing, having a DJ or playlist playing the whole time,” Viperas said.
Performances are a main point of the Night Market as well, as they showcase an ethnic group’s dance, culture and pop culture. Filipino-American Student Association, along with other Ethnic Student Center clubs have performed for the Night Market.
The market allows clubs, groups and performers to showcase the dances that take months of practice and preparation.
“Usually every year Filipino-American Student Association has done folk dance groups,” Visperas said. “I’d be performing at night markets and those were the years I was leading the dances. Being able to perform after months of practicing, and perform in public was really fun. If given the opportunity to, [we] would perform again for the Night Market.”
Many of the ethnic student clubs have gone on hiatus because COVID-19 affected their turnout rates and compromised the commitment of board members. The Chinese Students’ Association, Vietnamese Students’ Association and Mixed Student Organization are just a few of the ethnic clubs that were revived or started up this year.
This school year will be many club members' and officers’ first opportunity to participate in the market and complete the necessary preparation.
Vice president of the Chinese Student Association, Lucy Liu, has only heard about the Night Market this year as she is an incoming second-year student who has only spent time at Western online.
Like many clubs selling food items, Liu and the Chinese Student Association plan to sell foods like skewers, egg tarts and pineapple buns.
Liu’s menu will just be one of the many options available at the Night Market as more clubs plan for the event.
According to the Ethnic Student Center Marketing Coordinator Kiara Kim, with the pandemic still lingering there are many precautions when it comes to serving food at the market.
While the Night Market focuses on fundraising for the student clubs, the event also gathers the student body together and shares the different cultures found on campus.
“I think [the Night Market is] super important because in Bellingham we don’t have events like this for students of color [or] have festivals to celebrate the end of the year,” Visperas said. “I think it’s a really great opportunity to remind people on campus that these clubs are here, these communities are here to be a part of.”
Michelle Soi (she/her) is a reporter for The Front this quarter. She is currently a junior majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Journalism Public Relations. During her down time she likes to go out and try new restaurants or cafes, drive around with her friends, watch anime and read mangas.
Her Instagram is @michellesoi