BY TUMA HAJI
Drake Malaysian Students’ Association (MASA) hosted a welcome back event at Helmick Commons on Saturday. This year’s theme centered around “yum cha,” a popular Cantonese phrase in Malaysia meaning “hang out.” MASA’s secretary, Saraniya KPS Mohan, said the theme was partly inspired by memories of her friends asking her to “yum cha,” hang out, while she was back home in Malaysia.
Teh tarik, central to a yum cha, is black tea with condensed milk and sugar, also known as “pulled tea.” The tea is sweet with a slight tinge of bitterness. Elijah Rockhold, a first-year who enjoyed the Yum Cha event, said he was a fan.
“The tea tastes amazing!” Rockhold said. “It’s teh tarik, and I am in love!”
Rockhold said the tea had “a slight nutmeg, maybe a little bit of cinnamon” taste.
Alisha Ho echoed Rockhold’s love for teh tarik, adding that “it’s on the sweeter side, and it’s got kind of a roasted taste to it.”
The tea was served with other foods and delicacies. MASA’s president, Yuan Loong Choo, said that since “food is a very big part of Malaysian culture … food brings everyone together …” it was crucial to Yum Cha.
The large pans filled with lemon wedges, veggie somosas, pisang goreng (fried bananas) and flavorful karipap (curry puffs) captured the attractions and appetites of students passing by Helmick Commons, as well as those who chose to stay for the event.
The lemon wedges were tart and sweet, and the mini veggie somosas as flavorful as the seemingly popular curry puffs (curved, shell-looking appetizers stuffed with chicken, curry and other spices). The fried bananas seemed equally popular among the attendees. The crisp, yellow shell covering the sweet, mushy inside was appealing to some of the students.
Music played in the background. There were games aimed at encouraging students to communicate and become acquainted with each other. The MASA committee organized an ice breaker game where they encouraged students to get in groups based on similar characteristics, ranging from height to shoe type, and to socialize with each other for five minutes each round. Badminton and frisbee were also part of the team building games.
One of the activity coordinators, Yvonne Chan, explained that badminton is very popular in Malaysian culture, which is why they included the birdie and racket game in the event.
“We want people to engage with what is popular in our country,” Chan said.
MASA took advantage of the good weather to encourage students to play soccer and frisbee.
“We want people to hang out outside, instead of staying inside, to get away from all the books and studying,” Chan said.
MASA’s goal, to expose people to Malaysian culture as well as to see new and old faces, seemed to have been accomplished. Both Malaysian and non-Malaysian students seemed to be enjoying themselves as they filled their stomachs and engaged in the various activities.
Mohamed Izzudin Bin-Zuhaymi, a Malaysian student, enjoyed the event because it reminded him of his native country.
“It’s fun,” Bin-Zuhaymi said. “Right now you can feel the emotion. The feelings of the food and the friends and the people, and not saying anything special, but it’s just like, it feels like home, but in a different country.”
MASA will host a Malaysian Day event, dates and times to be determined, to celebrate and commemorate the establishment of Malaysia, which became a united country on Sept. 16, 1963. The event is tentatively this Thursday and Friday, Sept. 14 and 15 in the Olmsted Breezeway and will feature booths representing each of the 13 states, as well as games and a raffled gift card.