Lunar New Year descends on Sbisa
Confucius Institute holds inclusive event
Published: Monday, January 27, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 22:01
With swirling hues of red, aromatic foods, dragons and lanterns, Asian cultures welcome and ring in the Lunar New Year — a time for families and friends to celebrate new beginnings.
A&M will play host to the eighth-annual Lunar New Year Celebration Wednesday at Sbisa Dining Hall, presented by the Confucius Institute.
Also known as the Chinese New Year, the Lunar New Year is widely celebrated across many different Asian households that are based on a lunar calendar. The New Year will begin Friday, when the new moon appears.
“It is the single largest holiday in many Asian homes,” said Kelly Kleinkort, director of the Confucius Institute. “Some may say it’s similar to Christmas in terms of the importance. It’s a time of family and togetherness. People come home — it’s a new year where you seek to ‘out with the old, in with the new.’”
Kleinkort said the event will consist of both indoor and outdoor activities. Inside Sbisa, guests can participate in activities like Chinese calligraphy or Chinese paper cutting, while listening to live music, watching Tai Chi demonstrations or eating Asian cuisine. There will also be Kung Fu, lion dance and drum show performances by the Houston Shaolin Kung Fu Academy.
Kleinkort said the celebration typically sees approximately 2,000-2,500 people in attendance. She said anybody is welcome to come to the event and it is a great opportunity for students and the community to experience and engage in a different culture.
Garrett Blake, senior finance major, said he would volunteer at the celebration. Blake said he went to China for a study abroad trip two years ago, which furthered his interest in Chinese culture and led him to look for an outlet, like the Confucius Institute, where he could learn more.
“I think it’s pretty interesting and pretty unknown to the average person,” Blake said. “It’s really fun to be in those events and be around because there are a lot of people who celebrate this in Bryan-College Station. It will be nice to spread the culture a bit.”
Kleinkort said the purpose of the event is to bring people together across cultures, rather than being exclusive to just one community.
“We really want it to be an inclusive event where it’s not just about China, but it’s about celebrating all of those Asian heritage countries,” Kleinkort said.
Sherwin Chiu, president of Asian Presidents’ Council and senior supply chain management major, said multiple cultures would be able to come together to form a “collaborative experience.”
Nancy Phan, member of Asian Presidents’ Council and junior allied health major, said it will be interesting to see how celebrations differ between her own Vietnamese culture and of other Asian cultures.
Chiu said he would be volunteering this year for the celebration alongside members of his organization. He said experiences and interactions with different cultures could help rid cultural assumptions he felt were often made.
“It’s really an opportunity for people to get a taste of someone else’s culture, be able to talk to people of a different background and be able to understand things,” Chiu said. “And that really helps an individual to have a broader perspective of people.”
As Chinese students represent the largest international student population on campus and Asians hold the largest percentage of international students as a whole, the celebration is also an opportunity for the international community to feel celebrated, Kleinkort said.
“Are we celebrating the exact same way they would be celebrating in their home?” Kleinkort said. “No, not necessarily, but we are celebrating them and bringing awareness of their culture to Bryan-College Station and Texas A&M. So I think this is a really great event for them to feel celebrated and feel a little piece of home away from home.”
Indoor activities begin at 6 p.m.