The first Asian Cultural Festival is coming to Cedar Rapids on June 7

The first Asian Cultural Festival is coming to Cedar Rapids on June 7

On June 7, Corridor residents will be able to watch a live dragon dance, enjoy crab meat egg rolls, Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and chicken on a stick, while learning about Myanmar, the Philippines and Laos. Residents will be able to do all of this without having to leave the city of Cedar Rapids. As part of the first Asian Cultural Festival, on June 7, the McGrath Ampitheatre will be full of opportunities to get immersed in Asian culture. Festival chair Brandy Lovan said she was inspired to create the festival in part because she wanted the public to know “there’s a lot of diversity here.” “Growing up as an Asian family, we’re still accustomed to our culture and we love it when other people are involved, too,” she said. The festival will begin at 1 p.m. at the McGrath Ampitheatre and continue until dusk. Admission is free. There will be several food vendors selling cuisine, including Chinese food, sticky rice, Pad Thai, bubble tea and pork on a stick. Guests can also visit different “villages” which will feature general information about individual Asian countries. Villages will have maps of the country, information about languages spoken, the environment and about culture. There will be artifacts, art and traditional clothing on display. Some stations will also have interactive activities such as origami. There will be villages for India, Tai Dam, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, China and Nepal. In addition to the dragon dance, there will be Bollywood dancers, a Pilipino dance group and other singers. Vendors will also sell jewelry, Lovan said. Business booths will also be on hand…

Why Brandy Lovan doesn’t want to forget her Asian heritage

CEDAR RAPIDS – As the daughter of immigrants from Laos to the United States, Brandy Lovan remembers not knowing English as a child. Born in Iowa City in 1982, Lovan is a first-generation Asian American. As an Asian-American, diversity isn’t just something Lovan is passionate about in her spare time. It’s an integral part of who she is and how she identifies herself. As a child, Lovan’s first language was Tai Dam, a language spoken in Laos. Growing up, her Mom had a rule that she and her siblings could not speak English at home. The discipline helped Lovan learn her native language. Lovan remembers not knowing English as she entered kindergarten. She attended English second language courses with other minority students. “Growing up I kind of thought: why am I different? Why am I going to these special classes when the rest of my friends aren’t?” Lovan said. “It didn’t click to me until I got older ‘Oh, I needed to learn English.’” The language barrier and her family’s customs were unlike that of other families, which made her the target of glances and unwanted remarks. “School wasn’t so bad, it’s just around the neighborhood that the people that didn’t know me, we got teased a lot, picked on, but I just had to adjust and accepted that I was different,” she said. “It was hard, but it just makes you who you are.” Fast forward to today. Lovan is a receptionist/ patient services specialist at University of Iowa Quickcare in North Liberty. Lovan has taken coursework at Kirkwood Community College and eventually wants to transfer to the...