A club at Mercer Island High School (MIHS) brings a taste of the Taiwanese night market to town.
This coming Sunday, the 30-member Educational Coalition for Asian American Representation (ECAAR) will present its own event, featuring a host of street food items from the Asian Family Market, eateries specializing in Persian, Mediterranean and Indian cuisine, along with milk tea , stabbing, etc.
The ECAAR Night Market, which will also feature traditional Filipino dance lessons, various games, club multicultural cookbooks for sale, exhibitions of traditional Indian and Pakistani henna body art, and more, will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Feb. 12 in the MIHS Commons.
“Night markets usually have a lot of activities. It’s kind of one of those things where you go and you don’t just go to buy things, you go for an experience and you go to have fun with your friends and family,” said ECAAR Senior Co-President Garrett H.L. Lee.
Lee noted that ECAAR was also inspired to host its own market to promote Asian culture after the University of Washington’s Taiwan Student Association event over the summer.
Club senior co-president Priya Bhananker and Lee said they believe the club has made an impact in the school district community since its inception about two and a half years ago.
“We kind of started in the midst of the COVID pandemic and all the Asian hate that was going on during that time,” said Lee, who added that the club came out of the gate with a three-part webinar titled Perpetual Foreigner that addresses and helps softening stereotypes about the Asian American community, according to Lee and former co-president Olivia Guo in a previous Reporter article. The webinar was offered in tandem with the King County Library System.
Bhananker said one of the club’s goals is to educate the community about Asian culture, and the night market is a creative and fun way to immerse islanders in that realm.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress and the high school is quite supportive of our club and the whole administration is very happy to help, always,” said Bhananker, adding that the club has engaged students from Northwood Elementary School with presentations on Chinese and Lunar New Year, the history of origami, the Americanization of Chinese foods, etc. She believes that the information visits to the school have been beneficial for the students and they have received many letters of thanks from the youngsters.
Lee appreciates his fellow ECAAR members who put a tremendous amount of time and effort into club projects. Community members have contacted ECAAR and praised them for their vital work, Lee added.
“I think to see, especially for cultures whose older generation is so important to us and who maybe made a lot of sacrifices for us to be where we are, it’s really special to see that impact for them.” , Lee said.