It had been months of preparation, dedication, and stress, but the day had finally come. March 30th, 2019, the Tibetan Interest Association (TIA) would be performing at Asian Nite for the first time. Twenty-six groups had auditioned, and we were one of only fourteen groups that had been selected to perform. Asian Nite is a showcase that is held in Jorgensen every spring by the Pan Asian Council (PAC), a program that falls under the Asian American Cultural Center (AsACC). We had been frantically painting our props the night before, anticipating a crowd of one thousand, with a mixture of nerves and excitement. After several months of rehearsal, our culturally and ethnically diverse cast was honestly just worried about perfecting our performance and making the Tibetan community proud. Never did we imagine the outpour of negativity we would receive about a performance based on rejecting division and celebrating unity. Even more shocking was the aftermath of the performance and the Asian American Cultural Center’s lack of response to the situation.
Our seven-minute performance included monologues about the three provinces of Tibet. Each monologue was followed by dance from that province. The final dance was a popular Tibetan gorshey (circle dance), meant to symbolize unity. You can watch the entire performance recorded by UCTV for free. Several students, primarily international Chinese students, were disturbed by our performance and began booing. In the UCTV clip, you can audibly hear their disdain during and after TIA’s performance. My aunt and cousin were in the audience that night sitting near where most of the booing was occurring. She confessed to me days later that she was seriously worried for my safety and what the aftermath of this performance would bring.