By SHAOYI YAN and ERIN HOLLOWAY
Editor: MICHELLE DANNER
For many of our students, this was the first time that they did not celebrate the Lunar New Year with their families. Keeping this in mind, New Mind Education at NCSU decided to provide a Lunar New Year event that not only allowed the students to celebrate together but also allowed them to teach Americans about this holiday and its traditions.
The event took place on February 12 and was located in the main lobby of Alexander Hall, a dorm on NCSU’s main campus. Students living in Alexander Hall are either international students or Americans interested in learning about other cultures, making this an ideal place for students to mingle and learn from each other. Interns and staff worked hard to decorate the space with Chinese lanterns, New Year banners, red packets and other items. 40 students ended up attending the event, with an even ratio of Chinese to international/American students! This gave everyone plenty of opportunities for to have one-on-one conversations.
The most popular part of this event was the food! Beginning at 5pm, New Mind interns and staff cooked 15 bags of dumplings of varying flavors, including pork and cabbage. Several garnishes, such as soy sauce, chili oil, dumpling sauce, Chinese vinegar and fresh garlic, were also provided. “The best part was the dumplings with the sauces,” Lingchao Mao said. “All dumplings were finished and they were delicious! There is no doubt that even if there were more, we could finish them.” Dumplings are an important part of Lunar New Year festivities, as one is often marked as “lucky” and eating that one brings the recipient good luck for the coming year. Since the dumplings were pre-made, we could not designate a lucky dumpling, but everyone that attended the event enjoyed them!
The event included several activities arranged in stations. The dumpling station, in addition to delicious dumplings and sauces, also had the red packets, which were filled with lucky coins. It also had lucky strawberry, peanut butter, and chocolate coin candy, and a centerpiece of dried fruits commonly eaten during the spring festival. Another station taught visitors and UPP students alike how to make several Chinese knots, which students could then exchange with each other! The ram sculpture, which New Mind Education students built last semester during the SPARKcon event, also made an appearance at the event. However, its purpose at the event was to say goodbye to the old year and any bad memories or habits from the participants. Visitors could write down these bad memories or habits down on paper and then place it inside the ram, which was destroyed at the end of the event.
Aside from the dumplings, though, second most popular station was by far the Chinese calligraphy table, where students could practice writing traditional Lunar New Year phrases in Chinese. The interns had printed out references for these phrases beforehand. Visitors could also decorate small Chinese lanterns. “I saw that the western students really enjoyed writing Chinese and painting with ink and brushes,” Xiaoyu Liu said.
This station was particularly wonderful because it provided UPP students chances to mingle with and teach others. “This was a great opportunity to make American friends,” Lingchao Mao said.
At the end of the event, staff hosted a Lunar New Year trivia game that covered the history, traditions, and customs of this holiday. Surprisingly, many of the UPP students learned something from the presentation too! The student that answered the most answers correctly, an Alexander Hall resident, won a Spring Festival Dragon figure.
Overall, the students enjoyed the event. “It was fantastic!” Wenting Zheng said. Since this was her first time celebrating Chinese New Year alone, she thought that it would be a lonely festival, but thanks to the New Mind Education, now she said she had a great opportunity to teach Americans things like writing Chinese character and making knots.
“The dumplings had the exact same taste as my hometown’s” Brody said, “I have been in U.S. for almost a year, but this is the first time I ate such a tasty dumpling! I wish I could share it with more American friends.”