MTSU’s Asian Student Association recently accepted a donation from a Murfreesboro Buddhist temple to support the campus organization’s efforts to celebrate and raise awareness about Asian culture.
The student group accepted $6,000 in total donations from the Wat Lao Buddharam temple during the recent Lao New Year celebration, which falls on Memorial Day weekend every year.
Organizers said this year’s three-day event drew a record-breaking 10,000-plus attendees from around the region and country to the eye-catching temple on Old Nashville Highway.
Temple representatives presented a $5,500 gift to the ASA to support of its activities for the coming year, then presented an additional gift of $500 for the 35 student volunteers who helped with event preparation, during the festival itself and with event cleanup — more than 410 hours total.
Sophia Luangrath, an MTSU junior and president of the Asian Student Association, expressed her excitement about the new partnership and generous gift from the Lao temple.
“It’s the first time a huge influence in the Laotian community is bridging a path to higher education,” she said. “We are a community still under construction, so to see this push is remarkable.
Xai Saenphansiri, chairman of the temple’s board, has been an active advocate for student involvement and spoke highly of the collaborations between the Wat Lao Buddharam and the Asian Student Association.
“It is very important to have our culture preserved in the next generation. It is time our community does not lay dormant and silent but come together. The (Lao New Year) event is increasing every year, so we need extra help, so the experience is enjoyable for everyone,” he said.
Luangrath has already begun planning more activities for the Asian Student Association. Among her goals is hosting the regional Asian American and Pacific Islander student conference at MTSU. This will be another of many new milestones to bridge the Murfreesboro Asian community together, she said.
The new year celebration’s guest list also included Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron, Rutherford County Commissioner Chantho Sourinho and Nashville Metro Council member Mina Johnson.