The Taiwanese Student Association presented the Night Market 2019 on the night of Oct. 12 in Levin Ballroom. The activity featured 10 other Intercultural Center Clubs and brought around 950 people, according to TSA, to enjoy cuisines from around the world. 

“Night Markets play a significant role in the Taiwanese culture,” TSA president Victoria Zhao ’21 told the Justice in an interview. “[It is] a place where a lot of young people, and even old people go to have a casual date or just to let loose. [It] brings a lot of people together,” she said. Night Market at Brandeis has adopted the form of a Taiwanese Night Market, featuring signature dishes and drinks such as fried noodles and bubble milk tea with popular Taiwanese pop songs playing in the background. 

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SOMETHING DIFFERENT: Some club offered dishes that are not well-known in the U.S., but a very important part of the traditional diet in other countries.  

Besides presenting Taiwanese culture to the Brandeis community, the activity also highlighted Korean, Vietnamnese, Japanese, Chinese, Cantonese and Caribbean cultures. Cultural clubs brought traditional dishes that catered to different appetites. Everyone could enjoy learning about cultures by trying their traditional cuisines , regardless of their different cultural backgrounds. When asked about food’s connection to culture, Zhao said, “Food [has] a special connection with people. It remind[s] people of the taste from hometown and took people to the places they have traveled.” TSA hoped that the Night Market could introduce special Taiwanese customs, as well as other cultures, to the Brandeis community, allowing  for the diversity of cultures on campus to be embraced with openness. 

At the Night Market, each dish was selected for a reason. Vy Tran ’21, the vice president of the Vietnamnese Student Association, introduced the Justice to Vietnamese food such as sticky rice, crispy spring rolls and fermented rice cakes, which are less well known than pho in the US, but are very popular in Vietnam. Tran hoped that by increasing the variety of dishes, the community could enjoy more authentic Vietnamese culture. The Japanese Student Association, on the other hand, prepared simple and popular dishes like Gyudong and Tofudong with green tea. They hoped students could have a taste of typical Japanese daily meals. The beloved Cantonese food offered by Club Cantonese at Brandeis this year included steamed rice noodles, egg tarts, sesame balls with red bean filling and pineapple buns. Other clubs also offered wonderful foods, such as the very popular Korean spicy rice cakes.

Through this activity, different culture clubs were also brought closer to each other. Clubs reached out to each other for communication and collaboration. Zheqi Li ’21 from Brandeis Chinese Cultural Connection said that working with TSA, JSA, KSA and other student associations was a wonderful experience. “They are very organized,'' he said. “[The Night Market] involves lots of diversity here and food really does represent their cultures.” 

Due to the weather, the Night Market changed location from Fellows Garden to Levin Ballroom. Some clubs expressed their worries regarding this change. Nevertheless, the activity was launched smoothly and exceeded the expectations of the organizers. Alysa Noda-Hines ’20, the president of JSA, said, “It’s very successful and the whole room is packed. It is warm here, so people actually stay in for longer.” 

The Night Market brought Brandeis students from all over the world together to have a delicious taste of each other’s cultures. Students helped ease their home sickness with some familiar tastes, explored the unfamiliar dishes from countries that they have been to or want to visit, or simply just hung out with friends to relax.  On a Saturday night, it was simply a pleasure to get lost and travel in cultures that were familiar or new to you.