Thai student organization hosts Thai festival to celebrate and share culture – The Cavalier Daily


The smell of hot Thai food wafted through the air as Thai alphabet guides littered tables at the Multicultural Student Center. In the corner of the space was a mass of brightly colored traditional clothing ready to wear. About 60 students and community members filled this atmosphere of anticipation, eager to experience the Thai Student Organization’s Thai Festival last Saturday.

Founded in 1998, TSO is a grassroots cultural organization that welcomes students from all backgrounds and seeks to celebrate and maintain Thai culture and traditions. The group also promotes Thai culture and emphasizes cultural continuity.

“[TSO is] a second home for new Thai students, ”said fourth year student Proud Tantasathien and TSO president. “TSO educates and introduces culture and tradition to residents of U.Va. And the community of Charlottesville.

In the past, the organization has hosted a wide range of events and fundraisers, including HoosShare – TSO’s campaign for COVID-19 relief in Thailand – which ran last summer from July 28 to August 6 and raised over $ 4,000.

The Thai festival kicked off at 2 p.m. with a presentation by Tantasathian on Thai culture and history and TSO’s mission to conserve this culture for Thai students at the university. During the speech, Tantasathian briefed the students on basic facts and geography of Thailand, as well as cultural elements of Thailand such as temples and Shhh Thai – the traditional Thai costume. Tantasathian also briefly reviewed basic Thai phrases such as “Hello” and “I love you”, noting patterns in the language.

Second-year college student Sophia Wilbourn enjoyed the presentation.

“I love learning about other cultures and learning about their traditions and their food and in general a part of their history,” Wilbourn said. “I was very happy [that] there was a really cool presentation.

A series of activities aimed at getting participants to engage more actively in Thai culture took place after the presentation. The first activity focused on language. Armed with markers and a blank sheet of paper, participants were instructed to write their names in Thai using printed alphabet guides.

“Writing your name in Thai always attracts a lot of attention because the names are tied to your identity,” Tantasathian said. “We want to promote our language and make people enthusiastic about it. We want to invite them by helping them write their name in Thai.

After the language activity, participants were invited to try on traditional Thai clothing called Chut Thai. Chut Thai offered at the event was diverse. The colors ranged from blue, white, red, orange and gold. The brightly colored pieces were also of varying textures and fabric patterns. Some were reflective, others were satin, and a few had intricate designs.

Chut Thai pieces available to try on at the event included Sabai, a shawl-like piece of fabric worn over the shoulder, Chong Kben, a lower body garment and Sinh, a long skirt worn by women. .

Participants were free to try on the clothes as they liked. TSO executive members explained each garment in detail while helping attendees wear it correctly. Participants also had the option of having their photo taken once they were fully dressed in Chut Thai.

The clothes have been brought from Thailand by former TSO members since 2007. Tantasathian stressed the importance of continuing to pass on the legacy of Thai alumni and ensuring that current members have the opportunity to pass on their own. heritage.

Beyond clothing donations, TSO members preserve the legacy of the university’s Thai students by sharing their unique culture with non-Thai students.

“I like learning about other cultures,” Wilbourn said. “I like to talk to people from these cultures. It’s much more direct communication when you hear it from the source.

As participants gathered with old faces, met new ones, and tried on clothes, food was served. This free Thai food was prepared by the local Charlottesville Thai restaurant, Monsoon Siam. Dishes included papaya salad, pad thai, and spring rolls. When prompted for a plate, participants eagerly dug and resumed their socialization.

At this point, the festival was drawing to a close, but some attendees weren’t ready for the fun to end. Those who wished to extend the festivities played “my sunpa”, a Thai version of Duck Duck Goose.

When the time finally came to wrap up the festivities, participants gathered in large groups with full stomachs and happy hearts. Hannah Saglimbeni, a freshman at the college, explained what the event meant to her as a non-member.

“I liked everything,” said Saglimbeni. “I liked to write my name in Thai, and they dressed me in cultural clothes and food. Everything was good.

The Thai festival was made possible by TSO and the Lorna Sundberg International Center – a division of International Studies Office which offers enriching programs for the international community of the University and provides opportunities for intercultural interactions within the University and the community of Charlottesville.

Students can get involved with the International Center by registering for the events listed on their website. Their next upcoming event is a Charlottesville City Market Outing Saturday. During this event, guides from the International Center will help students move to and from the farmer’s market and even buy students a sample from one of the market vendors.


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