Culture Shock event showcases talent, promotes voting
While most UCF students were getting ready to go out on Friday for a night on the town, a group of nearly 200 remained on campus for a party of their own.
With the help of a $500 grant awarded to the Pi Delta Psi Fraternity from the national Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, the fraternity along with other UCF Asian American student organizations organized a talent show called "Culture Shock" to help make a change in the Asian-American voter turnout numbers.
According to a recent study by Pew Research, the Asian-American voter turnout for the 2010 presidential elections was a mere 37 percent, making it one of the lowest electoral turnouts for a race demographic.
The event showcased a wide variety of Asian, African, Caribbean and Hispanic cultural talents all competing for a chance at a $300 grand prize. It had been six years since the last "Culture Shock" and this year's event was filled a variety of guests including Supervisor of Election of Orange County Bill Cowles and the voter services chair from the League of Women Voters of Orange County Carol Davis -- all in the name of civic engagement.
Voter registration stands were set up at the main entryways to the auditorium in the Nicholson School of Communications, one led by the League of Women Voters of Orange County and the other by UCF's Student Government Association.
UCF's SGA President Weston Bayes was one of four judges at the talent show and believed the event was a great success.
"I had no idea that [the Asian-American community] had such a low voter turnout and to see them come out for this and to see them be so passionate about voting for this upcoming election, it shows that we're definitely moving in the right direction and I'm excited to see what the numbers will be like this time," Bayes said.
Senior marketing major and participant in the talent show, Tuyen Le, hopes the event will encourage the Asian-American community and other minority communities to become more involved.
"In the Asian community we really honor collectivism and working together, so it's really ironic that the [voter turnout] numbers are so low compared to the other races," he said. "I think it's still really important to remember for us to get involved [in] not just our own cultural community but the community around us, as well."
Ricky Ly, philanthropy chair for Pi Delta Psi and a UCF alumnus, believes that as an Asian-American the right to vote is something that shouldn't be taken for granted. That right is especially important for him in the midst of the current turmoil in Hong Kong where tens of thousands of citizens are gathered in pro-democratic protest of Beijing's edict that a government committee would decide the winner of the 2017 elections for head of the government known as Chief Executive.
"In China, they are out in the streets protesting for the right to vote and as an Asian American I think we need to honor the right we have to vote," Ly said. "If you don't vote, someone else will vote for you. Why [would you] willingly give up your own voice? Why [would you] have someone speak for you when you can speak up yourself?"