By: Liz Anastasiadis ’21, Features Editor
If you attended the annual Thai Dinner, your ticket meant more than just a plate of food.
On November 2, the Asian Culture Club (ACC) hosted a Thai Dinner in Knobel Hall of the Burton D. Morgan Center to help raise a scholarship fund for Banbuwittayasan school, located in a rural area of Buriram province, Thailand.
The Asian Culture Club is a student-run organization at Denison that aims to spread, educate and embrace Asian culture throughout campus and beyond.
During 2016, the current president of the ACC Jack Agrasuta ’19 who is originally from Thailand paid a visit to Banbuwittayasan high school. Having witnessed its poor infrastructure construction and from observing that many kids couldn’t afford an education, Agrasuta decided to hold ACC’s first Thai Dinner with the help of other club members in 2016. The first dinner raised $500 in total, which was soon donated to build an outside roofed area for the school where students could sit to do homework, lunch, socialize and enjoy other outdoor activities.
This year, the ACC Thai Dinner aimed to establish a scholarship fund for Banbuwittayasan students who have had to drop out of school due to financial hardships. Most of the students come from the families of rice farmers whose crops have been obliterated by natural disaster, who have low income or lack of work on their farms.
“I knew it was truly something more than dinner when I watched the video of the kids [from Banbuwittayasan] saying thank you to the entire room,” says Nha Le ‘21, a member of the ACC and a communication and economics double major from Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Vietnam.
Although the cost is $16 per semester for each student at Banbuwittayasan, many of the students still couldn’t afford to pay, resulting in a high rate of dropouts at the high school. Rather than studying as other kids usually do at their age, Banbuwittayasan kids have to stay home, work in the market, at the farm, or walk around their town selling vegetables to help support their family.
ACC’s Thai Dinner this year raised a total of $1000, doubling the amount of the 2016 dinner with 145 people in attendance. All funds from the dinner will be donated to the students so they can go back to school. The annual dinner hopes to bring more students interested in community service and culture to ACC in the future.
“I think it was heartwarming how everyone came out to support,” says ACC president Jack Agrasuta ‘19, a biology major with a pre-medical track born in Bangkok, Thailand, raised in Boston, Massachusetts. “If they couldn’t come, some also donated! I think it just illuminates how we can make a positive change not just on campus but in a way that also impacts other communities around the world. By coming together and enjoying Thai food, everyone had an amazing time and it was very worth putting the hard work [into] it!”
Want to know more about ACC? The club meets every Sunday at 10:30 am on the second floor of Knapp or during select weeks, in Burton Morgan 218. Contact Jack Agrasuta ‘19 for more information.