Celebrating Our Roots and Asian Names at VCAM

More than 60 students gathered in VCAM to celebrate their names by designing t-shirts. The event was a collaboration between five different Asian affinity groups at Haverford.

What does your name mean? Are you named after a relative? A parent’s favorite artist? A hope about who you would become? These questions and more were explored at Our Roots: A Celebration of Asian Names 2.0 in VCAM on Saturday, Dec. 2.   

“A lot of Asian Americans and Asian people have their names in their own language and it carries out a lot of meaning for us,” Angel Yang ’25, co-head of Global Chinese Connection (GCC), explains. “My father combined sky, earth, and people elements, those metaphysics, for my name.”

Planning for the event, which was envisioned by Started by Yang and Ruojia Zhang ’25, both leaders in GCC, began in mid-October. GCC initially reached out to Asian affinity groups, and the event became a collaboration between five of them: GCC, the Pan-Asian Resource Center (PARC), Japanese Cultural Club (JCC), Korean Culture Club (KCC), and the South Asian Society (SAS). 

The event was inspired by a previous iteration held in 2017. GCC and PARC coordinated an initial t-shirt-making session and a follow-up exhibit that showcased photographs of people with their shirts in the Dining Center basement. At the time, the event was used to advocate for a physical space for PARC, which was granted later that year. 

“Angel and l were interviewing this GCC Co-head from seven years ago, and they mentioned that they did this event called Our Roots: A Celebration of Asian Names,” Zhang says. “Haverford now has such a vibrant Asian community, especially with the emergence of JCC and KCC. I then asked myself ‘What if we did this 2.0 version?’”

Yang says that together the clubs pooled their funding to buy the t-shirts, paints, and food. “Together we finalized how to think about setting up the t-shirt making, photo taking, and what food we want to get,” she says.

Using paints and markers, students designed shirts with their name written in their native language(s), with some including graphics related to their name’s meaning in addition to being multilingual. 

Kim enjoyed seeing the cross-cultural collaboration that the event fostered. “I loved how everyone was talking to each other about their name, explaining their name to each other,” she says. “I love events where Asian affinity groups come together because it gives a sense of inclusivity and welcoming. It feels like a home away from home.”

“It was a very beautiful moment,” says Sayo Kapila ’25, co-head of JCC. “It’s great to see all the different affinity groups collaborating to have these kinds of events that foster a sense of community here at Haverford for the Asian community and beyond.”

The event also featured foods from a variety of Asian cuisines, including spring rolls, gimbap, samosas, boba, and waffle cakes. 

Bryn Mawr sophomore Iris Kim thoroughly enjoyed the event, saying “It’s comforting to know that there are so many different Asian people on campus. So often, we separate ourselves into much smaller groups, which makes this coming together a very wholesome cultural moment.”

“I really like the event because it’s a good time for multiple Asian groups on campus to come together and eat good food together, listen to good music, and spread cultural pride,” says Ava Kim ’26.

As part of the VCAM Create Space Program, organizers are planning to mount an exhibit on VCAM’s exhibition wall to display pictures of students posing with their t-shirts sometime next semester.