Worcester State University international students at Chinese New Year celebration

World Languages Department Celebrates the Chinese New Year

February 12, 2016
By: Worcester State University News

On February 10, Chinese Instructor Joy Chen-Lewis hosted a Chinese /Lunar New Year Celebration to welcome the Year of the Monkey. Students dressed in traditional Chinese clothing and enjoyed typical Chinese food and decorations.

This Lunar New Year has been celebrated not just in China, but in many Asian countries where the Chinese lunar calendar is still very important. It could be compared with Thanksgivings holiday in the America: national holiday for families to get together regardless of their religious identity. Besides having many New Year meals with family, people pay respect to their elders, remember their ancestors, visit relatives and friends, watch entertainment and /or perform themselves. This day is actually the first day of a two-week festival.

For the Beginning Chinese II class, with the support of the World Language Department, Chen-Lewis and her students decided to invite a diverse assortment of people from WSU to spread the happiness. “With the help of the International Programs Office, we invited exchange students, with the hope that our Asian students would feel that their biggest holiday in their home countries would be recognized at Worcester State, and so that they might not feel too homesick,” Chen-Lewis said.

Chen-Lewis brought decorations from home, borrowed others from Chinese faculty at Holy Cross where she helped to celebrate before the WSU celebration. She brought a rack of different Chinese traditional clothes, so everyone could wear the garb worn in Asia. She also prepared some Chinese homemade dishes, but all the food was cooked and delivered by Ming House, a Chinese restaurant in Worcester: spring rolls to welcome spring since the Lunar New Year is also called “Spring Festival”; dumplings to symbolize the shape of traditional money hundreds years ago; fish (鱼yu in Chinese) that sounds like “余yu” (same pronunciation) that means “abundance” in Chinese; noodles for longevity; and finally, New Year’s rice cakes 年糕 niangao made with 粘nian /”sticky rice” aka sweet rice. Though they did not have many things which people make or decorate for Chinese/Lunar New Year, Chen-Lewis hopes WSU’s exchange students, students from China, Korea, Vietnam along with American students, faculty, and staff all had a little taste of Chinese/Lunar New Year.

“It’s my first time in the U.S., so celebrating the Chinese New Year here is really meaningful to me,” said WSU international student Sean Zhihao Zhong. “I used to celebrate the New Year with a lot of people and I love the crowded atmosphere. This celebration did offer me the same feeling. Most importantly, we had delicious Chinese food!”

Stacey Luster, assistant vice president for Human Resources, Purchasing, and Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunities, observed: “Joy transformed the faculty lounge in the Sullivan Academic Center into a Chinese village, complete with Chinese lanterns, music, costumes and her own homemade cuisine. Guests were further transported into Chinese culture when Joy shared the meaning behind several of the components of the celebration. Joy gave of herself in such a way that I felt as if I were in her home.”

“The celebration was a great idea,” added WSU Accountant Valerie Kelley. “We have diverse students and employees so inviting everyone to celebrations from other cultures is an excellent way to bring everyone together.”

This article was submitted by Joy Chen-Lewis.

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