WC community rings in the Lunar New Year

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 3.48.42 PMdragonedited.LunarNewYear_MarkCooley (2)edited.LunarNewYear_MarkCooley (3)By Carlee Berkenkemper

Elm Staff Writer

Lunar New Year celebrations mark the start of a new year according to the traditional Chinese Calendar.

Here at Washington College on Tuesday, Feb. 5, the Chinese Club, Student Events Board, Global Education Office, and Dining Services all collaborated to create a culturally rich experience for students, faculty, and staff to enjoy.

The events of the evening started in the Dining Hall where traditional Chinese music played through the speakers and red paper lanterns adorned the walls. Each seat had a placemat detailing Chinese lunar zodiac signs, and a colorful paper dragon sat atop the salad bar.

From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., members of the Chinese Club helped serve a wide variety of food including potstickers from the dumpling station, stir fry, and sesame balls.

“My favorite was the dumpling station. There was a great variety offered, and it was such a nice atmosphere with the music and decorations,” said freshman Melissa DeFrancesco.

According to Chinese Club President junior Yue Sun, the club is an inclusive organization with two main goals.

“We are dedicated to spreading Chinese culture on campus and contributing to the diversity in WC by bringing together all students with a background or an interest in the culture,” Sun said.

“Additionally, we aim to create a platform for Chinese students to unify together and share resources in order to help them adapt to WC life,” she said.

In the past, the Chinese Club prepared all of the food themselves. After catering the International Dinner last semester, Dining Services decided to offer its assistance in creating an immersive cultural experience at the Lunar New Year celebration.

“The students worked with Chef David to put together the menu which we prepared and they helped to serve. This way they were able to spend more money and time on decorations and advertising,” said Tammy Zurek, dining services office manager.

“I think it turned out really well because it’s been able to reach the entire college community whereas previously it would have been a much smaller group,” she said.

The festivities continued after dinner with traditional Chinese games and activities in the Goose Nest and Egg starting at 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Andrew Oros, Associate Dean for International Education, noted how the event brought together Chinese international students and domestic students with an interest in Chinese culture.

“Our largest group of international students is from China—68 presently on campus.  We realize they are away from family and friends on this big holiday and want them to see WC as their family away from home. For our domestic students as well, a chance to experience how this major holiday is celebrated helps expand the College’s mission of increasing global awareness among our students—and to help some prepare for study abroad in China in the coming years,” Dr. Oros said in a WC news release.

The Global Education Office and the Student Events Board cosponsored the event, contributing games, snacks, planning and coordination, and promotion.

Freshman Michael Nichols is a member of Student Events Board and worked in the Egg on Tuesday evening. “I love the promotion of cultural unity among the various student groups,” Nichols said.

The Egg offered games and Chinese candies, while the Goose Nest was full of people watching a festival broadcast from China, painting paper lanterns, and talking to members of the Chinese Club as they drew out characters and shared their favorite aspects of their culture.

“I like writing the characters the most because it’s in a very traditional way. It’s meaningful to me because we don’t use this exact technique anymore, we usually use pens instead of brushes,” said freshman and Chinese Club member Zhang Zhiyi.

“The Lunar New Year is the number one most important festival in China, and it has thousands of years’ history,” Sun said.

“I’ve wanted an event to let non-Chinese experience the most important [aspects of] Chinese culture and have a celebration for our Chinese students. Obviously, people love Chinese decorations, foods, and activities, which makes me so happy,” she said.

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