Students near the student center last Wednesday evening were greeted with K-pop music playing from Barker Plaza.
The source was the Korean Heritage Festival, an event run by the Student Activities Board in partnership with the Korean Language and Culture Club.
As a heritage festival, the event’s goal was to showcase some of the aspects of Korean culture to anyone who was interested in learning more.
The festival featured, in addition to K-pop music, foods popular in Korean cuisine, calligraphy, kite making and Korean chess. Several posters were on display with information about the country, including facts about the government, popular celebrities and major cities.
For first-year Multicultural Affairs Director Pooja Naidugari, this festival marked the first of many to come throughout the coming months.
“I just want to be able to hit as many cultures as I can,” Naidugari said.
Naidugari said that her position in the Student Activities Board involved planning events celebrating the many cultures and ethnic groups represented on campus.
This festival and events like it are important for fostering cultural awareness in students who didn’t grow up in the culture, and how they also provide students who did grow up in Korean culture, among the others that will be celebrated later in the year, with the opportunity to connect with students of similar heritage, Naidugari said.
Naidugari is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience with a minor in math.
The Korean Language and Culture Club was also present at the event, teaching students how to write their names in the written language.
The club offers unofficial language courses and a weekly conversational table for students interested in learning to speak the language.
The club's goal, according to club president and junior Michael Di Girolamo, is to educate students in learning about Korean and to ultimately encourage the University of Kentucky to start an official Korean program in the language department.
“I think we’re really close, within one to two years before we see (UK make) an official class,” senior language course teacher Juan Lee-Thacker said.
According to Lee-Thacker, over the course of the class’s existence (a total of four semesters), the number of students has grown from around 10 to 66.
Standing among the kite makers, senior and club member Caitlin Alexander said she enjoys events like the Korean Heritage Festival because they expose students to cultures that they may not otherwise get to experience.
“It’s not a melting pot unless you make it (one),” she said, talking about the often-missed opportunities people have to immerse themselves in other cultures.