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The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

Harvest Moon Festival sheds light on developing AAPI Programs

David Castañeda
Students gathered at NMSU’s observatory to admire the full moon. Sept. 29, 2023.

As the moon rose over the Organ Mountains, more than 150 enthusiastic students gathered to observe the full moon at the Tombaugh observatory. As they listened to traditional Chinese music and snacked on mooncakes, a slideshow ran on the observatory wall to tell those nearby about the rich history of the celebration they were attending.  

As students peered through telescope lenses and casted their eyes up to the stars, they participated in a festival that takes place across the world in Asian American communities.  

The Sept. 29 Harvest Moon Festival was a joint event from Asian American and Pacific Islander Programs and the astronomy department. The event’s main purpose was to celebrate the Harvest Moon Festival, which is the second most important celebration in East Asian communities after Lunar New Year.  

For AAPI Programs, it is a way for them to continue growing their programs. The organization is not yet a fully-fledged diversity program like other well-known programs on campus, but they hope that events like these will help show the need for Asian American visibility.  

“Having this festival that represents many cultures across East Asia and seeing that the attendance was largely representative of everyone- it was representative of all races and people at NMSU,” said AAPI Acting Director Dr. Sophia Sangwanthong. “It shows not only the need for visibility for AAPI folks but for education and cultural programming that speaks to the continent of Asia as a whole.” 

Because the event was jointly hosted by both AAPI Programs and the astronomy department, there were opportunities for students to learn about both Asian Culture and astronomy at large. In addition to watching the full moon rise, students were also encouraged to observe the double star Albireo.  

Students were able to observe through telescopes available at the site, and one of the observatories was open to participants. Lines to participate in the astronomy aspects of the event wrapped around corners, everyone excited to get a glimpse of the night sky. 

The harvest moon illuminating the night sky. Sept. 29, 2023 (David Castañeda)

“The moon has a lot of meaning for a lot of different cultures, and scientifically has a lot of influence on earth,” said astronomy department member Zach Edwards. “Albireo is significant because it becomes two stars when observed from a telescope. One star is red and one of them blue.”   

The joint event is one of the many events hosted by AAPI programs throughout the year. While their events see high attendance, the group is only beginning its tenure at NMSU. Currently, AAPI programs exist in an in-between state. The organization is not yet a full diversity program but is also not considered a student organization or club.  

The Harvest Moon festival’s high turnout represents the necessity of the program and the support it has from the NMSU community. In addition to taking part in a worldwide celebration and uplifting Asian American voices, it helps grow the relationship between the sciences and cultural branches of the university.   

“This event means a lot to me as a member of the Asian American community to see things from my and other Asian cultures reflected within the work that I’m doing,” said astronomy student Audrey Dijeau. “Ultimately, astronomy is something that everyone around the world can share. We all share the same night sky.”  

The event was unfortunately cut short due to lightning and storm conditions out of the South. While the event was cut short, the AAPI programs showed high attendance with enthusiastic participants. The event only lasted an hour but was representative of the ongoing work the organization is doing.  

AAPI Programs invite people to join them for other cultural celebrations and programming they host throughout the year. Upcoming events include a partnering with NMSU’s Creative Media Institute to present a Japanese horror double feature screening on Oct. 23 at the CMI Theater. Throughout the year, there will also be events hosted to celebrate Diwali, and an academic summit during the spring semester with other diversity programs.

For more information, visit their account on Instagram @nmsu_api. 

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About the Contributors
Madeline Nielsen
Madeline Nielsen, Staff Writer
Madeline Nielsen is a freshman at NMSU majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. This is her first semester at The Round Up as a writer. She is excited for the learning experiences in Student Media and in college at large. She is originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and graduated from St. Michael’s High School in 2023. In High School, she participated in creative writing and theater, and is excited to continue working with all facets of student media in college. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and painting.
David Castañeda
David Castañeda, Multimedia Director
David Castañeda is starting his second year here at The Round Up, this being his first year as Multimedia Director. This is his second year at New Mexico State University and is majoring in Journalism & Media Studies. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas as an only child but is extremely happy to be able to call Las Cruces his new home. David has had an affinity for photography since he was in elementary school and has only fallen deeper in love with the art through this job. Though David enjoys nothing more than to be behind a camera he loves to try to explore new hobbies and career options. He’s currently focused on improving his photography at The Round Up and working with the Multimedia Specialists to make the Multimedia team the best it can be. When he isn’t taking photos or editing them on Photoshop, David loves to spend his time with his 3-year-long girlfriend in their apartment where they frequently cuddle up in bed to watch some trash TV and films. On his own, he loves to play the bass and listen to music. His favorite artists are The Strokes and Gorillaz.    

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  • AnonymousOct 16, 2023 at 5:33 PM

    Wow! This is really great writing. I could picture everything in my head as if were there!!