Students ring in Chinese New Year at UD
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
The Lion Dancer, a traditional figure used during the celebration of the Chinese New Year, sat still behind the masters of ceremonies as they gave their opening acknowledgements Saturday in Mitchell Hall. As soon as Newark Mayor Vance A. Funk III stepped off the stage, the Penn Lions, a traveling Philadelphia region collegiate lion dance troupe, began to beat their drums as the Lion Dancer rose from its stance. This signaled the start of the celebration of the Year of the Snake and of the Chinese New Year Gala.
The festival, which is hosted annually by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, is a celebration of the Chinese New Year at the university, said Vice President of CSSA jand unior Janel Lo. They host the festival every year to show the importance of the New Year, she said.
“The Lunar New Year is our biggest event, so we put a lot of effort into it,” Lo said. “We hope people enjoy it as much as we do.”
Freshman Jiaiqi Ding said she was one of the many international students who attended the event.
Ding said the snake is part of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animals, each representing a year, so the snake is associated with 2013, she said.
“The New Year is like our Christmas,” Ding said. “[The Festival is] a good way to have fun and meet new friends.”
The gala consisted of a series of dance, stand up and vocal performances. Though labeled “The Chinese New Year Gala,” the festival also incorporates some traditional American
Performances like the “Ever After: Red Riding Hood and Granny, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and Step Sisters.”
Ballet is one of the most beautiful aspects of American culture, and the club wanted to show that in the gala, Ding said.
One of the vocal performances, the Peking Opera’s “Drunken Beauty,” performed by Linghui Tu, expressed the story of the rare and favorite concubine of the Tang Dynasty’s Emperor Xuanzhong.
Lo said spending the New Year at home in China with her family, where she would watch the festival on television and see the celebrations in the street, was amazing.
“We would watch the lion dances and go to the market festivals set up in the streets,” Lo said. “This Gala is only a tiny part of what the New Year really is.”
Though the New Year campus gala cannot match the celebrations in China, the local festivities represent a significant time for Chinese students on campus, the Director of the New Year Gala Yue Pang said.
“At home, I’m with my family,” Pang said. “Here, I’m with my friends, we make dumplings and watch the festival on the computer, not the TV. I miss the food back home.”
The New Year is important to the Chinese, Ding said and her grandparents celebrated it for years before she did, she said. It is not about the lights or the performances; it is a time to be with family and friends, she said.
Pang said she celebrates by perfecting her performances. The club has been working on their performances since September, and Pang specifically choreographed the Dragonfly performance and practiced her various other dance acts, she said.
The CSSA hosts the gala to give foreign students a taste of home, but their hospitality to international students is year round, Lo said.
“I joined this club to learn more about Chinese culture, and they’ve been so great of accepting me,” Lo said. “They didn’t care that I was from another country.”
For those who can’t be with their families, she said the festival and the club allows students to celebrate the New Year with people they care about.
Along with the gala, the CSSA hosts other occasions such as networking events and bus trips to Six Flags and Rehoboth, Lo said, but the New Year is their most highlighted event, as the organizers aim to make students feel as though they were celebrating in China.
“The performances were great,” Lo said. “There were some technical difficulties, but we worked through them like a family.”