In August 1981 four Asians discussed the need to develop an organization with the following goals:
To promote cultural awareness among various Asian groups
To foster an understanding and appreciation of Asian cultures by the community at large
To strengthen awareness among youths of Asian ancestry and the legacy of their cultural roots
To provide opportunities for expression through diverse Asian cultural arts
Thus in 1981, determining that there was enough interest to develop such an organization, the group formed the Wichita Asian Association (WAA) was formed. Since its founding, WAA has had no paid staff. It is organized 100% by volunteers including the board.This non-profit organization has no paid staff; dedicated volunteers work together to meet the goals.
WAA is active in the Wichita arts community and works diligently to promote awareness of Asian cultures. The premier event presented each year is the annual Wichita Asian Festival, held at Century II. In 2015, WAA was proud to present this popular festival for the 35th straight year!
The main promotional vehicle has been the annual Asian Festival presented each year at Century II and it is well recognized in Wichita. To the best of our knowledge, this type of festival is presented in very few cities in the US. Over the years, the festival has introduced new additions to the program. The most significant was the Miss Asia pageant which was started in 1984 and has been a showcase of talent for girls from ages 16 to 25. This festival became very popular and well recognized including by the Midwest Travel Writers Association. The participants in the festival are often students from local universities, area schools, community members and their children. Their enthusiasm cuts across all ages. Their eager participation deserves plenty of praise. None of the artists are paid any remuneration. They are happy and proud to exhibit their culture and tradition. Art and cultural exhibits are encouraged by providing free booth space.
As an organization which represents 48 countries with vastly diverse cultures, WAA has been able to work with the various communities in meeting the goals of cultural education and cooperation. Interaction within the Asian community in Wichita has improved since the founding of WAA. Members of the Asian community are respected members of Wichita and many contribute WAA with helping guide them to this position.
The most significant accomplishment of the WAA is to bring together a vastly diverse community consisting of more than 13 countries from south and Fareast Asia, representing various ethnic groups and religions (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) under one roof and collectively give a unique festival. The fact that they come together plan the event and participate and present is commendable. This is a great opportunity for them to inter act.
The other accomplishment is that through this festival and through other artistic and cultural events, the WAA educate non-Asians about Asian art, culture and religions. This is helping to promote cultural understanding, peaceful co-existence, and mutual understanding.
WAA members give presentations to organizations, schools, and service providers about Asian culture and how to interact with Asian clients. This knowledge about interaction is especially important for people meeting those who are first-generation and were raised in a completely Asian culture rather than a mixed culture as we have in Wichita.