On Friday, April 1st, Black Student Union and Korean Student Association (with co-sponsorship by ACAfter Dark and AAS) collaborated to bring back SeOUL Food. Up until about ten years ago, SeOUL Food was a popular annual event hosted by BSU and KSA. In this clever play on words, SOUL represents the African American culture and ethnic pride, where as SEOUL is the capital city and one of the cultural centers of South Korea.
The event began with guests entering the Powerhouse at 8pm to a playlist of music that featured both black artists and Korean artists. There was a photo booth with props and a specially crafted sign that said “SeOUL Food.” The decoration emulated a street market with street lights, the Korean flag and a Black Lives Matter flag hanging on the balcony and chairs neatly organized for people to seat and relax but also enough space to move around.
At 8:30, the food was served. There were two tables of food: soul food catered by Wild Wood and Korean food catered by Gohyang. Guests were invited to line up at the end of one table and then followed the line to sample food from the other table as well. In front of each dish was its name and a brief description of its history. Many students of all backgrounds found new favorite dishes. Most popular? Corn bread, a soul food trademark side, and bulgogi, Korean sliced beef.
At 9, DASAC and DBJ performed. DASAC is the Amherst Dance and Step team and DBJ is the Five College Kpop dance group. Each group prepared their own set of songs to showcase their distinct style. What made the experience even more lovely was that several dancers participate in both groups and performed with both groups that night. It showed the true meaning of the event. While two cultures may seem different, we can connect and bond in different ways–namely food and music.
An affinity group’s purpose is often defined by its leaders and members. Do you make a space for students of that affinity or do you spread the knowledge of that affinity to others? SeOUL Food showed us that affinity groups at Amherst College do both. We hope to see many more collaboration events like this one around campus. More importantly, we hope that neither group will make us wait ten years for the next SeOUL Food celebration.