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'Unapologetically ourselves': Asian Pacific American Student Organization to host 21st Cultural Vogue this weekend

February 15, 2024
<p>The Japan Club performs at the 20th annual Cultural Vogue at the Wharton Center on Jan. 28, 2023.</p>

The Japan Club performs at the 20th annual Cultural Vogue at the Wharton Center on Jan. 28, 2023.

Photo by Zari Dixson | The State News

Michigan State University’s Asian Pacific American Student Organization, or APASO, will host its 21st annual Cultural Vogue at the Wharton Center this Saturday, Feb. 17. 

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with raffle giveaways for beanies, bento boxes, stickers, tote bags and t-shirts, before official programming starts in the Cobb Great Hall at 6:30 p.m.

APASO Cultural Vogue Chair Megan Smejkal said the event started in 1990 as a way to “recognize, appreciate and celebrate Asian heritage through various forms of art.” 

“It also helps to bring people of all different backgrounds together, and it bridges gaps between older and younger generations,” Smejkal said. “It's meant to kind of inspire young people, individuals who might be questioning their background or hesitant to be proud of their heritage. They have a safe space and a community here to support them.”

This year’s theme is “unapologetic” to highlight the idea that Asian Pacific Islander Desi American / Asian, or APIDA/A, culture has been generalized and commodified by society for too long, Smejkal said.

“It's one of those things where our existence as APIDA/A individuals has been boiled down to these check boxes and stereotypes, and, at this point, we don't need to conform to society's expectations of what it means to be Asian,” Smejkal said. “We don't need to apologize for who we are, and that's where this idea of unapologetic kind of came from. It's time for us to be unapologetically ourselves.”

The event will feature 14 performances from 12 different APASO-affiliated student groups, as well as a performance from keynote speaker Twinjabi, an American music duo. In addition to performing some of their music, the two Punjabi brothers will also share how their heritage has shaped their artistry.

“They’ll talk a little bit about how their Asian heritage has played into the music they produced, how their experiences have been affected as a result of their culture and upbringing, and how that kind of plays into who they are today,” Smejkal said. 

Smejkal encouraged students to bring friends and family to cultural vogue, as it is free and open to the public.

“It's meant to be a really welcoming environment, really inclusive,” Smejkal said. “We'd love to see everyone come out.”

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