Thai Night: A One of A Kind Experience
Do it for the culture. Going to Thai Night 2017 was a fantastic way to do it for the culture. Before entering Thai Night, you wonder what exactly you will experience. The possibilities are endless. Walking into Heritage Hall, immediately, an eclectic crowd of smiling faces greets you.
You naturally hit the photo booth first. Then, you are asked “Do you want to shoot?” as a revolver Nerf gun is handed to you and you stand in front of a pyramid of soda cans. The answer of course is yes. After three missed shots, the fourth slams the target. Cheers. There’s an old saying that goes something like “The fourth times the charm.”
After your victory, you meet your next challenge: Toss a ring. If you are not familiar with this game, no worries. It’s the game where you toss the ring onto the poll. Pretty simple stuff. If you’re still unsure, this will definitely clear things up. You know the mini-game in Pokemon Stadium on the Nintendo 64 where you have to shoot ekans onto the diglets that pop up like wackamoles? Similar premise. After many failures, you eventually give up, but Jack, the friendly Thai Student Association member who’s working the game, gifts you a celebratory participation snickers mini. The hospitality is off the charts.
For your final game, you must conquer Gonggi, a deceivingly difficult game of hand eye coordination. Some nice Thai students dressed in chut Thai, or traditional clothing, tell you how to play. Basically you throw these five small pieces onto the table. Then you pick one up, throw it into the air, pick another one up from the table and catch the airborne piece. The game has many variations if you’re up to the challenge. There might be some giggles at your own expense when you fail attempts at cool tricks, but its worth it.
Now that you have worked up a healthy sweat, your healthy appetite is in the building. You know what else is in the building? Royal Chicken stir fry over white rice, a spring roll and canapes, and Thai tea catered by Cozy Thai, followed up with Tua Dum Gang Buawd (black beans in coconut milk). Don’t knock it until you try it. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Now, the real festivities begin.
The lovely MC’s take you on a journey, telling a story of American raised Mark, who has moved to Thailand because of his dad’s career. He goes there basically expecting everything to be like the United States, but he quickly experiences culture shock when he is punished for talking in class. Luckily for Mark, he has friends and classmates that take him under their wing, showing him how to enjoy his time there.
Mark learns of the passing of the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13th, 2016. King Bhumibol the Great served for over 70 years, making him the longest reigning Thai monarch in history. His passing devastated the people of Thailand and people all around the world. Mark’s new knowledge and respect for the late King gives him a new perspective when watching different traditional dances and songs at the popular Temple Festival with his friends.
Mark’s learning experience is a learning experience for everybody at Thai night. People from all over the world sit and watch the wonderful story unfold. Not only do we get to see Mark’s journey, but we watch many wonderful performances starting with a Thai Boxing warm up where, together, the boxers make slow, calculated movements to stretch and gain confidence before a big fight. Then comes more choreography. Thai women delicately perform a traditional dance for the King.
In Thailand, it is a custom for younger high school classes to make a tribute to their graduating seniors, so Mark and his classmates, rocking shades and Penn State attire, perform an up-beat going away performance. It’s a blast.
This ends our journey with Mark. Now there are prizes! What is American fried rice? Fried rice with ketchup! Boom, prize! Some guests win beautiful handkerchiefs, some win light, elephant pants. A Moroccan fellow wins a purse, saying that he will gift it to his mom for Valentines Day!
Now, the Thai Student Association gives their final performance, a tribute to the late King Bhumibol the Great.