West Coast senior found home at Purdue through student organization and Purdue Cultural Center

JP Liban, a Filipino American student at Purdue, has his heart in two worlds. He loves America, where he was born and raised, and he loves the Filipino culture that he knew in his hometown of Los Angeles. In his near-campus apartment, he and his roommate Calvin cook recipes from both. Brunch biweekly is often steak and eggs. Dinner favorites are sinigang, a sweet and sour soup, or Filipino spaghetti, which is sweeter than the American version. Then he adds spicy banana catsup. 

LibanHis father wanted him to go to school close to home, but his mom encouraged him to move further away. He chose the latter but moving to the Midwest was an adjustment. And he knew no one here.

“So, we encouraged him to look into the student groups on campus,” his mother, Benel, said.

His father, Chris, added, “That’s really part of the strength of Purdue. It’s a research university that has over 1,200 student clubs. There are many opportunities to meet people.”

Taking that advice, that’s how JP found a little bit of himself right here with the Purdue Filipino Association. From cultural events to philanthropies, PFA encourages students from all backgrounds to get to know one another and share their cultures.

His parents were born in the Philippines and still have family there, so JP has traveled there several times to visit family. He also grew up around friends and family stateside who have a Filipino heritage. But having friends through PFA let him take a deeper dive to explore his roots.

Pre-COVID, he coordinated events for the group of some 60 or so dues-paying PFA members. The simpler events are held at the Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center (AAARCC), where the group also meets casually. A church cantor back home, he joined a band to perform in the association’s open mic night in the South Tower of the Purdue Memorial Union. The association’s annual Philippine Culture Night is so popular that it’s filling Loeb Playhouse with a full-stage production of plays and choreographed music and dance. It draws students for similar associations across the Midwest.

When he’s not going to class, studying, lifting weights or playing his ukulele, he hangs with friends, often at the AAARCC. He also is passionate about the environment and would like to be involved in sustainable urban development. He sees himself perhaps designing parks and urban landscape. He will be following somewhat in the footsteps of his father, the sustainability officer for the Los Angeles County Metro Transportation Authority.

JP will graduate in December with his bachelor’s in environmental and ecological engineering and then a master’s one year later.




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