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International students, AmeriStudent hosts lunch, cultural activities

Jeremy Brownstein

Dragons float down the streets of China to scare off the monster, Nian.

A blanket of red covers the streets of China as they defend their city against the beast, Nian. Dragons ripple among the crowds with the sound of fireworks and shouting in the air. The celebration of the new year comes with the year of the pig.

The Chinese New Year dates back to the Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 B.C.). The legend of the beast talks of the creature Nian who tortured and swallowed children whole. Every year he ambushed the town, and the villagers would flee in agony and hide from Nian. After the villagers discovered that the beast was afraid of the color red in addition to loud noises, they began to wear red and light bamboo sticks to frighten the monster away. Chinese New Year is a representation of the time when the villagers scared the beast away.

As an international student from China, junior Xiyuan Zhao (Serena) shares her favorite part of Chinese New Year along with how she celebrates the traditional holiday.

“We will have family gatherings no matter how far away every family member is,” Zhao said. “On New Year’s Eve we will eat dinner together. Starting from the next day we will visit our friends and siblings and bring gifts to them. Since we are not in China we thought it would be cool to spread and share our culture in the U.S. My favorite part of Chinese New Year is spending my time with family. I enjoyed making dumplings with them.”

In the following podcast, Annabelle Messer interviews Landon Goldsborough about Chinese New Year.

Though the myth began with scaring off a beast, Chinese New Year now celebrates hard work and good fortune for each year. The celebration lasts for 23 days, beginning on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month on the ancient Chinese calendar leading up to the 15th day of the first lunar month. Each new year represents one of the 12 zodiac animals. This year is the year of the pig.

The annual Chinese New Year parade and festival in Fresno, CA is coming up, March 2. The event is filled with vendors, foods, drinks, lion dancers, and taiko dancers. This year’s festival will involve activities to celebrate the year of the pig. The festival starts at 10 a.m., with the parade at noon on “F” Street between Kern and Tulare (downtown Fresno) following

The following tweet informs students about the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration, Feb. 5.

Traditional foods and meals bring families together during the celebration. The Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner is similar to Christmas Eve dinner and holds an important role of celebration. This meal bring families together around the table with good company. Some of the famous Chinese new year dishes consist of fish, dumplings, niangao (traditional new year’s cake made out of a glutinous rice), and tangyuan (sweet rice balls, similar to dumpling and paired with soup).

Blake Deffenbacher | The Feather Online

Junior Alina Davila, left, and Hannah Villines, ’22, practice using chopsticks.

International Program Coordinator of almost two years from AmeriStudent, Brooke Stobbe, shares the importance of the international student’s ability to share their culture with their peers.

“Imagine living in a country as a young teen where the way you dress, think, behave and function is stigmatized as ‘weird’ or ‘different’,” Stobbe said. “Many of them spend every day shedding a little layer off of their identity and adopting a new persona in order to be successful here and blend in.

“This is a massive opportunity for the American students to reach out to their international peers and learn about them,” Stobbe continued. “Most of the domestic kids have never been to China, Asia, or even outside the continental Americas or their own state. This is their opportunity to see how the other half really lives.”

Many of the international students put together and planned a celebration for their peers and classmates to experience Chinese New Year during lunch, Feb. 5. Students have the opportunity to buy a Chinese meal from the local Hunan Chinese Restaurant, sample traditional foods, learn how to write in traditional calligraphy and how to use chopsticks.

The following video explains the value of Chinese New Year as well of how people celebrate the holiday.

Students are also encouraged to wear the color red, a traditional Chinese color. This event happens once a year and encourages students to support the international students and learn about their culture. 

For more articles, read Molecular biologist Dr. John Medina lectures at SJV Town Hall and EDITORIAL: Are we losing the art of listening?

Annabelle Messer can be reached via email and Twitter.

Below is a slideshow of Chinese New Year activities.

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