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Student APIDA Committee Hosts Cherry Blossom Festival

5 mins read
Spectators at the APIDA Cherry Blossom Festival. Photo courtesy of Best Chantanapongvanij for The Phoenix.

The Intercultural Center hosted the college’s first-ever Cherry Blossom Festival — an event featuring live music and dance, student vendors, and food trucks — on Sunday afternoon, April 17. The festival, held in recognition of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month, was organized by the college’s APIDA Planning Committee and took place at the Scott Arboretum’s Cherry Border. 

The APIDA Planning Committee is a student-led group formed through the Intercultural Center responsible for organizing a series of events highlighting the contributions of the APIDA community on campus. 

Anna Fruman, one of the festival’s organizers, discussed the process behind planning the event in an email to The Phoenix. 

“The festival was originally pitched by Clara Mulligan [’25] during our first meeting back in early March, and we went all in trying to get as much involvement from APIDA student organizations and performing groups on campus as possible,” said Fruman. 

Fruman emphasized that the committee worked to connect with APIDA student vendors, organizations, and performers throughout the planning process. 

“The vision was a big, joyful celebration of pan-Asian cultures, and we’re so proud of how it turned out and of everyone who helped make it happen,” they said. 

Over 100 college community members took part in the event, with some residents of Swarthmore Borough also visiting campus to attend, according to organizers. 

Olivia Han ’25, the chairperson for the APIDA Planning Committee, said she spent the last several weeks organizing the details of the event — including bringing in food trucks, coordinating with performers, and securing enough tables and chairs to accommodate the high turnout. 

“We had seven performances overall, including performances by members of Swarthmore Taiko Ensemble, Mei, Gamelan Semara Santi, and the Swarthmore Chinese Music Ensemble,” said Han, reached by email. “We’re glad we were able to represent so many APIDA art forms at an open event after the campus was closed for so long.”

The event also featured performances by Grapevine and students Shirley Liu ’22 and Malakiva Eby ’25. 

Scout Hayashi ’22, a member of Taiko — the college’s traditional Japanese drumming group — discussed how she prepared for the festival. 

“Part of the taiko ensemble performed a piece called “Omiyage” which translates to “gift” and is one of the most well-known taiko compositions in North America,” Hayashi explained. “We practiced about 2-3 hours every Saturday all semester to learn the piece and also performed it in Philadelphia last weekend.”

In addition to music and dance performances, the festival also featured vendors including a Kona Truck serving shaved ice, Philadelphia-based Papermill Fresh Asian Kitchen, a booth serving Taiyaki, a fish-shaped Japanese cake, and handmade art by APIDA student artists. 

Han noted that in addition to the Cherry Blossom Festival, the APIDA Committee is planning to organize more events throughout the final weeks of the semester. 

“[We’re] hosting a Princess Mononoke movie night in the LPAC this Friday in honor of Earth Day and also partaking in the Interfaith Center’s Community Conversations on May 7,” she said. “I certainly hope that Swat makes the Cherry Blossom Festival an annual event. I think that it was enjoyable for all of us and I’d love to do this again next year,” she added. 

Fruman agreed that they hope the festival’s success will lead to the college continuing to support more APIDA-centric programming in the future. 

“It would be so awesome for the festival to become a recurring Swarthmore tradition and to have that kind of ongoing institutional support for APIDA-centric events,” they said. “This whole experience working with the IC to plan APIDA HM has been very inspiring, and I’m excited to see how we can keep expanding the Festival as a space for pan-Asian joy at Swarthmore.”

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