The tables downstairs were set up with Chinese snacks and candy, as well as tables where people could make dumplings. Upstairs, chairs were set up in front of a small stage set for performances. All of this was set up to help celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, otherwise known as the Chinese Spring Festival.
The event was held in the Baptist Collegiate Ministry building near ETSU. The ETSU Chinese Student and Scholarship Association hosted the event with the goal of celebrating the Lunar New Year with friends and family.
“This festival is about celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year,” said MingWei Li, President of the ETSU Chinese Student and Scholarship Association. “Because we all know that we have kind of a regular new year, but this one is really special in Chinese culture because we have our own lunar calendar.”
Li said that celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New year have been going on at ETSU for five or six years, though the holiday itself is thousands of years old.
Many activities were planned out for the evening. On the first floor of the BCM students could make their own dumplings. On the second floor, students got to perform songs and dances. Games were also planned out, such as giving out lottery prizes and an interesting spin on the game “Telephone,” where native English speakers would try to repeat Chinese phrases to native Chinese speakers in hopes of saying the phrase correctly.
“I liked the Chinese dance with the sword,” attendee Brenda Eng said. “The whole ceremony they did tonight kind of reminded me of a Chinese wedding.”
After the performances, everyone gathered downstairs to take part in the feast.
“My favorite part is the food,” Li said. “Because every year we put a lot of money in it. We order this food from the most local, authentic Chinese restaurant, and they offer it very fresh. In fact, they cooked it today.”
By gathering together to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Chinese students could celebrate an important holiday and share a part of their culture with friends and family.
“I hope people leave knowing more about Chinese culture and wanting to come have a conversation with us,” Li said. “Because most of the Chinese students are a little bit shy… After tonight, maybe they will have an opportunity to know about us and help Chinese students get more into the campus activities. It’s kind of like tying two parts together.”