“Now Brewing”: Culture and Coffee

The Asian Cultural Society (ACS) Open Mic Night gives Asian students a place to showcase their heritage and shared experiences


Caitlin Villacrusis

Looking out into the crowd, communications senior Manha Chowdhury performs her opening speech. Asian Cultural Society’s (ACS) Open Mic Night was not only for the Asian community but also for students to come out and express themselves. Caption by Haiden Kenney

Priya Gowda, Writer

In the corner of Starbucks, with baristas making drinks in the back and the smell of coffee in the air, co-vice president of Asian Cultural Society (ACS) and communications senior Manha Chowdhury began the Open Mic Night with a speech. 

“Far too often, even though many of us are passionate and love our cultures, we don’t get to show our pride as members of the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community,” said Chowdhury. “Our voices blend into the background of American diversity, even in times that we try to stand out.” 

ACS held their second Open Mic Night at the Starbucks in The Square on Nov. 11 to give members of the club a chance to showcase their talents and bond over shared cultural experiences and for people of all backgrounds to experience the stories that ACS members presented.

“Having the community here who look like them, think like them, have similar experiences as them to applau(d) and support (their) work, it’s super important to have that acknowledgement from an audience that’s similar to you and just the connection that allows the performer and the audience to make is super important,” co-president of ACS and piano senior Kailin Xia said.

By giving members a space to perform and connect over shared backgrounds, co-president of ACS and visual senior Alyssa McIntosh hoped that Asian performers and members of the audience were able to honor their heritage with their pieces. 

“(For) Asian members of the audience, I hope they see themselves in the performers,” said McIntosh. “I hope they feel more proud of their culture to see it celebrated by the performers, (and) I hope performers have gained a sense of confidence in expressing their heritage and their culture with an audience.”

Open Mic Night not only gave Asian performers and their audience a chance to connect over their shared backgrounds but also to feel validated when it came to “their experience as a minority.”

“If younger me were to hear someone else speak out about these (bad) experiences, it would make me feel better because it (would) make me feel less alone as if I’m not the only one going through something like that,” performer at Open Mic Night and digital media junior Jeselle Tortugo said. “I hope (that my poetry) makes other Asians who experience similar issues feel less alone when it comes to their issues.”

Performers such as Tortugo hoped that, through sharing their pieces, they could spread awareness and insight into the Asian experience, especially for the non-Asian members of the audience.

“Both (poems I performed) are recounts of past experiences (of) being Asian, and I felt like they’re both very personal topics to me,” said Tortugo. “It makes me feel better to speak out about it. It makes others, maybe non-Asian people, more aware of these issues that aren’t as talked about, and it could possibly inspire other Asians to speak out on their personal experience.”

Open Mic Night aimed to represent a collection of the experiences of Asian students and a celebration of their talent and cultures.

“It allows people a platform to concentrate these kinds of similar themes into one place, one night where the audience can really get an in-depth experience of that (the Asian experience) and also to see how many amazingly talented Dreyfoos students, (who) are also AAPI, (there are),” said Xia.