A Mercer Island High School (MIHS) club is bringing a taste of the Taiwanese night market experience to town.
On an upcoming Sunday, the 30-member Education Coalition for Asian American Representation (ECAAR) will unveil its own event featuring a plethora of street-food items from the Asian Family Market, eateries specializing in Persian, Mediterranean and Indian fare along with milk tea, poke and more.
The ECAAR Night Market, which will also include traditional Filipino dance lessons, various games, club multicultural cookbooks for sale, displays of the traditional henna body art of India and Pakistan and more, will take place from 3-8 p.m. on Feb. 12 in the MIHS Commons.
“Night markets usually just have a lot of activities. It’s kind of one of those things where you go, and you don’t just go to buy stuff, but you go for an experience and you go to have fun with your friends and your family,” said senior ECAAR co-president Garrett HL Lee.
Lee noted that the ECAAR was also inspired to host its own market to promote Asian culture following on the heels of the University of Washington Taiwanese Student Association’s event over the summer.
Senior club co-president Priya Bhananker and Lee said they feel the club has made an impact within the school district community since its formation about two and half years ago.
“We started kind of in the midst of the COVID pandemic and all the Asian hate that was going on during that time,” said Lee, who added that the club came out of the gate with a three-part webinar titled Perpetual Foreigner that addresses and helps mitigate stereotypes about the Asian American community, according to Lee and former co-president Olivia Guo in a previous Reporter article. The webinar was offered in tandem with the King County Library System.
Bhananker said one of the club’s goals is to educate the community about Asian culture, and the night market is a creative and fun way to immerse Islanders in that realm.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress and the high school is pretty supportive of our club, and all of the administration is very happy to help, always,” said Bhananker, adding that the club has engaged Northwood Elementary School students with presentations on the Chinese and Lunar new years, the history of origami, the Americanization of Chinese foods and more. She feels the informational visits to the school benefited the students and they received copious thank-you notes from the youngsters.
Lee appreciates his fellow ECAAR members putting an immense amount of time and effort into club projects. Community members have reached out to the ECAAR and given them praise for their vital work, Lee added.
“I think to see, especially for cultures whose older generation is so important to us and who maybe did a lot of sacrifices for us to be where we are, it’s really special to kind of see that impact for them,” Lee said.