On the first day of September, 30 people filled the HUB. They devoured Chinese food, listened to the Bruno Mars Pandora station and happily conversed at the first Community and Ally Lunch Mixer of the semester.
Students in attendance identified as Filipino, Mexican, queer and more, but all were allies gathered in the same room to support the Asian and Pacific Islander community.
As students and faculty each introduced themselves around the room, support was vocalized and an emphasis on community within this space was reiterated.
Faculty from multiple departments attended the lunch mixer, including an on-campus psychiatrist, a financial aid worker, and Educational Opportunity Program coordinator Khou Yang-Vigil. All came as allies to the Asian and Pacific Islander community, and offered help and support as needed. Carina Buzo, the HUB program coordinator, said the goal of these lunch mixers, which occur Fridays at noon on the second floor of the Student Center, is to foster community.
In her introduction speech, Buzo said that “Oftentimes our first community is our family around a dinner table.”
The community and ally lunch mixers aim to make the welcoming family environment many have at home attainable at Sonoma State University, Buzo said.
“It’s important for people to come together, especially with so much violence and heartbreak being focused on in the media,” Buzo said. “It’s important to remember that some people just want to be apart of community and we believe that food can help bring community together.”
Shea Manzo, a third-year transfer student, said she came to the Asian and Pacific Islander lunch mixer because she wanted to find a community and potentially make new friends.
“I came because I am Filipino, I am gay and also I am hungry,” Manzo said as she quickly hurried over to fill her plate with some food.
The bulk of students that came to the lunch mixer were members of the Filipino American Association of Sonoma State.
Christi Kessler, a third year psychology major and the organization’s president, shared an unofficial slogan: “You don’t have to be brown to get down.”
The slogan is meant to show that this organization is not exclusive to those of Filipino background, but is also open to anyone looking for a community, Kessler said.
“FAASSU is the most warm, welcoming, and funny group of people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Kessler said. “It is an open space for anybody to come and be a part of, regardless of ethnicity or cultural background.”
Kessler said she always felt like she was missing something until joining the organization, which helped her realize she had never gotten a chance to explore her cultural identity.
According to Kessler, the last time Sonoma State recorded its demographics, Asian students made up 4.9 percent of the population.
Kessler said lunch mixers make small numbers like this seem much less daunting to minorities at Sonoma State. Upcoming ally lunch mixers will offer a space for the African-American, Latinx and Chicanx, and LGBTQ communities, according to the HUB.
For more information on upcoming events, contact Caroline Buzo at (707) 664-4237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.