Diversity was celebrated as the SCSU’s JP Network, a social networking group, marked an important milestone at its ninth annual Japan Night in the Atwood Ballroom Saturday night.
The title of this year’s Japan night was “Ryuugakusei,” which translates to foreign exchange student. The group aims at teaching members about Japanese and American culture, according to group’s website. The event featured a play that incorporated music, dance, fashion, and the experience of being a foreign exchange student making new friends in Minnesota.
The play was about a high school junior from Japan who moves to Minnesota as part of a foreign exchange program. As he makes new friends, he shows them the many different aspects of Japanese culture.
“Bowing and dance is different from my country,” said electrical engineering student Syntyche Koumaglo.
Towards the beginning of the night, a video was shown that demonstrated the many different forms of bowing, which is a way of apologizing in Japanese culture. A credit at the beginning of the video gave the audience permission to laugh at the video. The audience did indeed laugh in reaction to the different forms of Japanese bowing.
Koumaglo said she really liked learning about Japanese culture and thought the storytelling of the night was creative.
While the majority of the night was spent acknowledging the different aspects of Japanese culture, there was also reflection on the JP Network.
JP Network Advisor Owen Zimpel mentioned that this is year 10 of JP Network’s existence, and he talked about past officers of the group and what they are doing now. Several past JP Network presidents attended the event, and Zimpel brought them up on stage alongside current President Cheela Lao to say a few words about JP Network.
Zimpel talked about several traditions of the organization, including their Twin Cities trip, which they have done every semester for the past 10 years, for a total of 20 trips. The trip consists of taking JP Network members to places like the Mall of America, Japanese restaurants and Japanese grocery stores. Zimpel showed a video montage of last semester’s trip, explaining that as many as 35 students have attended these trips.
Zimpel talked about how these trips and other expenses of the JP Network require fundraising, and as a tradition the group grills in the Atwood mall for fundraising. Zimpel said they always “step up their game” in fundraising and their “signature Godzilla burger is known around campus.”
Another JP Network tradition followed Zimpel’s presentation. “Soran Bushi,” referred to as the fisherman’s dance, was performed by men and women of JP Network. Zimpel said the students usually try to outdo previous performances of this dance.
The fisherman’s dance was followed by dinner. Teriyaki chicken along with tofu with steamed rice, miso soup, tsukemono and chocolate Warabi Mochi, for dessert, was served at the event.
The play concluded with a school talent show that featured performances of different styles of Japanese music. A tearful goodbye was said to the main character as he went back to Japan, and all the students involved in the night bowed to end the show.
Lao said the most important outcome of the event to him was for everyone to have fun. A linguistics major, Lao said he joined JP Network, because he is passionate about the Japanese language and the expansive amount of words it contains.