Asia Society Works To Build Understanding And Friendships


Katia Damaso, Staff Writer

On March 3, the Asia Society Club at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft Campus, held their first meeting of the month.  Overseen by Professor Daijuan Gao, the club meets Thursdays from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. and seeks to enhance knowledge of Asian cultures and history.

“I like the people,” said member Matthew Paderon, discussing his membership. He also mentioned that the informative slides shown during meetings are his favorite part.

Jordy Martinez, who joined after taking Gao’s psychology class, said he has made friends and enjoys both the meetings and karaoke outings the club goes on.

The recent meeting started with an attendance sheet signed by all participants, who sat around chatting animatedly about their club’s trip into Manhattan’s Chinatown the prior weekend, while they waited for Gao to arrive. Gao walked in with fresh, homemade bread that she baked for the students, who showed excitement for it, and the meeting opened with a presentation entitled “Art Throughout Asia” by club president Arianna Guerrero and club vice president, Shea Hoff.

Guerrero and Hoff took turns narrating a detailed PowerPoint that illustrated characteristics of Asian art and calligraphy as well as different architectural and fashion styles.  Of particular interest to the students was a slide that showed medical masks (much like the ones that emerged during Covid-19) being used as part of couture fashion in East Asia.

Hoff went through a chart of different Asian sword styles throughout history and together he and Guerrero wrapped up the presentation with a discussion on Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.  Gao interjected to mention to students that some of Hokusai’s artwork is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and suggested it to Guerrero as a possible location for the next club trip.

An interactive virtual game took place next, where the club members used their cell phones to answer questions based on the presentation. Questions, such as “Sailor Moon is an example of what unique art style?” appeared on the board.  Roughly 90 percent of students present participated in the game in some way.

After the game, Guerrero announced future topics and reminded members that elections would take place in April for vice president, secretary, treasurer and public relations positions.  Several of the students enthusiastically shouted out their interest for certain positions, with Gao reminding volunteers that there would be “a lot of work involved.”

The last segment of the meeting saw Gao moving to the right side of the room to sit among students there, where conversations started to bud around her as Guerrero and Hoff wrote themes for upcoming meetings on the board.  The meeting branched off into several subgroups that were either talking to Gao or interacting with Guerrero and Hoff, some making suggestions of their own and bouncing ideas for future club undertakings. Mention was made of upcoming Women’s Week and how it could be worked into the next club meeting. The last few moments of the meeting were charged with an obvious chemistry, diversity and energy among the members.

Gao, who has been in charge of the club since 2019 and has been the recipient of the Student Life Gold Star Award, said the club has been active since the 1990s.  “College is a great time to make friends.  It makes school enjoyable,” Gao said. She also said her favorite thing about leading the club is seeing the students’ knowledge grow.

“Look around,” she said, going on to mention that students hang out beyond club meetings and have formed bonds while simultaneously gaining an understanding of Asian cultures.

As Gao pointed out more than once at the meeting, the Asia Society is always looking for and welcomes new members to join. For anyone interested, Gao may be reached at [email protected].