Celebrating the Lunar New Year Across the U.S.!

Zihan Xu, China, Emporia State University: The year of the pig in the lunar calendar has just come. This is my first time spending the Spring Festival away from family and friends. The Spring Festival is the most important festival for Chinese people. This is when families reunite to enjoy meals and conversations. No matter how far people are from their homes, they arrive home before the New Year. We hold a memorial ceremony for our ancestors and wish for good luck. After the ceremony, we enjoy a scrumptious meal on the last day of the lunar calendar. The color of the Chinese Spring Festival is red, which means good luck and happiness. Many families place red couplets and lanterns on their doors. During this time, there is a background music of fireworks, which you will hear every now and then, especially in the countryside.

While I am away from home, I had a chance to celebrate the Spring Festival in Emporia, Kansas! My host university, Emporia State University, has many Chinese students. The Chinese students and professors organized an Asian Lunar Spring Festival show and I was invited to participate in a dance performance. I was excited as it was my first time performing on stage. Other performances included modern dance, traditional dance, chorus, solo, and traditional instruments. There was also a traditional Chinese fashion show. Though many of the performers were Chinese, it was pleasant to have performers from other countries such as the United States and Germany. Two German young girls presented traditional Chinese dance and a Chinese poem respectively. A Chinese professor from the business department of ESU also presented traditional Mongolian dance, which amazed all the audience. After the performances, all of the Chinese participants had dinner in a local Chinese restaurant. It felt like I was at home. As I was eating the dishes, while I was thousands of miles away from my motherland, I wasn’t homesick at all. I will never be lonely if I can find my compatriots and Chinese food. Additionally, I believe it’s meaningful for Chinese people to present traditional Chinese culture to improve mutual understanding of people from other cultures.

Nilufar Murodova, Tajikistan, California State University, Bakersfield: California State University in Bakersfield annually celebrates the Lunar New Year. On February 5th, CSUB Campus Programming together with Extended Education and Global Outreach Office, organized the Lunar New Year 2019 event at the Student Union building. The event was celebrated with joy and friendship. It was colorful and had Chinese authenticity. The big hall of the Student Union was decorated with Chinese knots, lanterns, and Chinese calligraphy. Kindergarten children performed a Snow Lion Dance and the head of the Extended Education Office performed a Dragon Dance and recited a poem. Students could request to receive their names translated into Chinese calligraphy, participate in a Ping Pong tournament, and mingle with each other. Participants and guests also enjoyed eating various food and desserts. During this event, through a demonstration, I was surprised to learn that Bakersfield has a school of Martial Arts in which students learned Kung Fu, Piranha Jiu Jitsu and Golden Tiger Karate. I found out that the New Year celebrations across the world can be different and unique while sharing similar traditions. I enjoyed participating in this event and learned more about Chinese culture.

Keomany Phengmeuang, Laos, University of Arkansas: There are many reasons for people to move from their home countries, but one thing they have never forgotten to bring with them is their traditional culture. Since my home country, Laos, is surrounded by China and Vietnam, the Lunar New Year is well-known and celebrated. Although I am many miles from my home country, I had an opportunity to celebrate the festival in the U.S. My close friend, Minqi Shang, invited me to a Lunar New Year party. At the party, American, Japanese, and Korean students made and ate hotpot and dumplings together while getting to know one another. Minqi told me that there is a belief that the more people who eat dumplings, the more money they will make. While studying in the States, I have not only learned about U.S. cultures, but also about various other cultures. I am really delighted to be one of the Global UGRAD students as it has given me the opportunity to meet wonderful people at the University of Arkansas.