Asian-Pacific Islander American Heritage Month begins with “Build Your Own Roll” event

The second annual “Build Your Own Roll” event was held on Sunday, May 1, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. in the Diversity Center. The event, coordinated by the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), Waseda and the Pan-Asian Organization (PAO, formerly Asia-A), celebrates Asian-Pacific Islander American (APIA) Heritage Month.

Junior and Student Program Assistant for the Diversity Center Kendra Pankow said, “We wanted […] a fun, easy way to get people to […] celebrate […] Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month and we figured a lot of their cultures have some sort of rolls. [The event] was just a creative way to bring a bunch of different cultures together and celebrate all of them at once.”

At the event, there were three tables set up where attendees could make or try rolls. Each table was sponsored by one of the event planning groups. OMA sponsored make-your-own Filipino plantain rolls and also served Hawaiian Spam rolls. Waseda served sushi rolls. PAO sponsored a make-your-own spring roll table.

The Filipino plantain rolls, also known as Turon and sometimes referred to as “banana lumpia,” were planned by sophomore and Student LAMP Program Coordinator Sam Bader. Attendees selected pre-sliced plantain from a bowl and rolled it in brown sugar. Next, they placed it onto a lumpia wrapper, similar to wrappers used for deep-frying egg rolls, and rolled up the plantain. After sealing the wrap by running some water over the fold, they brought the roll to the kitchen where it was fried. Attendees also got a scoop of ice cream to complement the roll. Bader also made Hawaiian Spam rolls, which consisted of pieces of cooked Spam and rice rolled in nori, a type of edible seaweed sheet.

At PAO’s spring roll table, attendees dipped thin rice sheets into warm water until they were bendable. Then they chose from a variety of items to add in the roll, including pork, carrots, cucumber and hoisin sauce, and rolled them up in the rice sheet. There were two types of sushi rolls at the Waseda table: one with salmon, egg and avocado, and one without the salmon. Seniors and Waseda students Momoko Oka and Haruna Kinoshita made the rolls. In the past, Waseda has served cucumber rolls.

Oka said, “We thought [the rolls were] so simple so I talked to the Diversity Center … to get the salmon and avocado so [they are] more fancy.” The Waseda table also had dishes with soy sauce to dip the sushi in, and wasabi for attendees looking to add spice to their rolls.

The event was open to the Lawrence community, and there were many attendees. Oka remarked, “There were a lot more people than we expected.” Half an hour before the event ended, the sushi rolls and Hawaiian Spam rolls were all eaten.

The event centered around celebrating diversity. When asked what she gained from the event, sophomore and Chinese and East Asian studies double major Liana Januss said, “I got to meet more people!”

Pankow said she hoped people gained “a sense of community of Lawrentians celebrating other people’s cultures and other Lawrentians’ cultures as well as learning a little bit about different cultures.”

The event is part of a series of events throughout the month focused on Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. Junior and PAO Co-President Evelina Vang said, “Everybody loves food, right? But I really hope that [people] keep in mind that […] it is Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month and […] that they keep their eyes out for events relating to those issues and topics and not just the food events.”