Last weekend's dance marathon was a memorable experience for many people, but for the Asian-American community at Penn State, it had a special meaning. This year marked the first time an Asian-American organization sent a couple to dance the night (and day and night . . .) away to benefit the fight against cancer.
"It really means a lot because the mission of the Asian-American Student Coalition is to raise Asian-American awareness, and we did it for a great cause," said Audrey Wang (junior-psychology), who danced on behalf of the coalition.
Lambda Phi Epsilon, a social/service Asian-American fraternity, and the Asian-American Student Coalition joined forces to raise funds and send a couple to the 1995 Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
Chris Lopez, president of Lambda Phi Epsilon, made up the other half of the couple.
One of the reasons the Asian-American community was not represented in years past is that it could not raise enough money to meet the requirement to dance, said Ajay Nair, Asian-American Student Coalition president. But this year, with the two organizations working together, the couple raised more than the $480 minimum.
"We had a group of people totally dedicated to the service project at the same time," Nair said.
The coalition has wanted to participate in the marathon, but because so many of its members are involved in different activities, they did not want to spread out their efforts, Nair said. With the fraternity involved this year, it was easy for many people to channel their energies, he said.
And the response was wonderful, Nair said.
"People were very supportive because it was a new thing for us," Nair said.
Although it has a large membership, the Asian-American Student Coalition is relatively new.
"This is only our fourth or fifth year. It takes a while to get everything going," Wang said.
But now the that the ball is rolling, it's not going to stop any time soon.
Both Wang and Nair want to be involved in the dance marathon in the future, and they said they believe the Asian-American community will continue to increase its philanthropy.
The current atmosphere on campus suggests that minority groups are engaging in separatism, but that is not the case, Nair said.
"We're helping our community and the whole community," he said.
Wang said she did not see many other minority couples dancing, and she hopes other groups follow the coalition's lead.
"Even if you think it's all Greek, it is not. The cause is really great," she said.