The Asia Project brings resilience to Diversity Week

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The Asia Project brings resilience to Diversity Week

Asia Samson performing in George's in LBJ on Tuesday Oct. 29. Photo credit: Brianna Benitez

Asia Samson performing in George's in LBJ on Tuesday Oct. 29. Photo credit: Brianna Benitez

Asia Samson performing in George's in LBJ on Tuesday Oct. 29. Photo credit: Brianna Benitez

Asia Samson performing in George's in LBJ on Tuesday Oct. 29. Photo credit: Brianna Benitez

Brianna Benitez

Tears, laughter and snaps filled George’s in LBJ as the Floridian poetry group, The Asia Project, delivered an emotional and personal performance.

The performance took place from 7-8 p.m., Oct. 29, as an official event of Texas State Diversity Week.

Student Government hosted the week-long event from Friday, Oct. 25, to Saturday, Nov. 2. Throughout the week, several activities around campus were held to bring awareness and appreciation to the diverse differences of the university community.

Corey Benbow, Student Government President, said this was the first year Texas State hosted a diversity week celebration. He hopes the week unifies the university community and sparks conversation about social justice.

“We are such a huge campus with a great ray of diversity, but we do not do inclusion very well,” Benbow said. “I hope diversity week will allow us to celebrate each other and start meaningful conversations.”

The Asia Project is a duo act combining spoken poetry with an acoustic musical ambiance. The group is led by writer and poet Asia Samson. Featured on the guitar is Samson’s brother-in-law, Jollan Aurelio.

Since the duo formed in 2009, they have performed at over 600 institutions and have been awarded the 2012 APCA Spoken Word Artist of the Year award.

The Asia Project moved the audience Tuesday night through humorous anecdotes and tear-jerking personal stories. All poems performed were influenced by events in Samson’s life.

Samson performed his poem “Awakening,” which was written in memory of his sister—Kate Samson—who passed away from a blood vessel hemorrhage in 2012. Through words, Samson vividly illustrated the day his sister took her final breath.

The heartbreak of his sister’s fiance as he removed the ring from her finger and the sorrow that engulfed the hospital room when the nurse disconnected his sister from life support, was painfully painted for the audience.

Through his poem, Samson explained how his sister’s death was an awakening for him to realize life itself is a coma in which he can choose to wake up from. At the end of the poem, Samson encouraged the audience to make time for people they love by reminding them to be present in the time spent with one another.

Samson said he places no expectations on what the audience takes away from his performance. He wants his audience to live in the moment and experience their lives to the fullest.

“The great thing about poetry is what everyone gets out of it is all personal,” Samson said. “Everyone gets something different; I never try to have an expectation on what they should get.”

The Asia Project performed other poems, including “Bathtub” and “Walking Constellation” which are influenced by his wife’s miscarriages. “Alive” is dedicated to the birth of Samson’s son, Aris Samson.

Samson said he was excited to be a part of Texas State Diversity Week because he thinks it is necessary for schools to celebrate the cultural differences making America special.

“In a time of racial divide and division, diversity is something schools need to bring awareness to,” Samson said.

Ismael Cruz, interior design freshman, said he attended the event because of an interest in learning more about diversity. He appreciates the university for hosting events focusing on awareness regarding the different identities represented across campus.

“I think it is important for the university to emphasize diversity to unite people and show it is better to be together and equal,” Cruz said.

Margarita Arellano, dean of students, said The Asia Project’s humanistic performance served as a reminder that even the biggest obstacles in life can be overcome.

“Not everything is perfect in life, but what matters is how we look at it,” Arellano said. “(Samson) has overcome challenges and through his performance, he showed us why life is so important.”

For students to fully appreciate diversity on campus, Arellano said it is important for students to make an effort.

“I think all of us have to choose to want to learn,” Arellano said. “The work is ours to do, each of us.”

To listen to their poems and other work, check out The Asia Project albums “Bleed” and “Touch” on Spotify or iTunes. For live performances and behind-the-scenes content, visit The Asia Project on YouTube.

For more information on The Asia Project visit their website or follow @theasiaproject on Instagram.

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