Lunar New Year celebration ushers in new semester of intercultural learning

The Asian Students Association (ASA) organized a New Year celebration to commemorate the Year of the Rooster on the lunar calendar. The festivities were held on Feb. 3 in the Balfour Hood atrium. The celebration included the lion dance, Chinese food, cultural activities, music and martial arts performances.

The event started off with a traditional Chinese lion dance by the Rhode Island Kung Fu Club, a non-profit organization located in Providence. The lion dance is performed to bring good luck for the new year. They went on to perform staff, board sword and small tiger forms of martial arts. Jennifer Lane of the Rhode Island Kung Fu Club said, “It was a great pleasure to perform here. The audience was a lot into the performance. I definitely will have good memories of coming here.”

Heaven Woods, a Wheaton student band consisting of Xinyi Liu ’19, Xinru Liu ’19, Keran Yang ’19 and Yuchen Zeng ’19,  performed the song “Paloma Cabeza.” Attendees participated in East Asian cultural traditions like origami making, tea-tasting, calligraphy and traditional riddle games. Chaoran Zhang ’17 won the dumpling eating contest.

The Lunar Year celebration proved to be a cultural bonanza. For many people, this was their first time experiencing a Lunar New Year. “It was just kind of out of the world this year. I really liked it. This was a great way for me, as someone who wouldn’t celebrate the lunar new year, to kind of be a part of it,” Rebecca Maitland ’17 said.

Hanna Thieme ’17, Vice President of the ASA said, “We don’t just stick to one certain background, we like to embrace everybody’s individual differences.” Alice Mo ’17, President of the ASA, recognizes the importance of intercultural respect and being politically correct. “We call the event here Lunar New Year because there are a lot of people who are not just Chinese. Even Koreans and Japanese celebrate this new year,” Mo said.

The Lunar New Year’s role as a cultural bridge for Wheaton was suggested by James Kenny, who is the Director of Major Gifts at Wheaton. “It is our philosophical belief that we should have as many different people from as many different backgrounds [that] can have the opportunity to learn about other cultures. So there is value in events such as this which helps more students learn about various cultures,” Kenny said.