|UMD students Dehua Liu, Simon Werber-Krause, Emily Goranson, Ge Wang, Alicia Hayes, and Yining Pan plan the Chinese New Year celebration. They are holding sheep toys because the celebration takes place in the first lunar month in the Year of the Sheep.|
|Read a transcript of the podcast.|
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Ge Wang, a freshman student from China, has celebrated 19 Chinese New Years or Spring Festivals with his family. This year, he will celebrate his first festival at UMD with friends from all over the world.
“Celebrating Spring Festival abroad is interesting,” said Wang, “I am excited to meet more people and show them my culture.”
Wang is one of the 90 Chinese students at UMD. Although the students are thousands of miles away from their hometowns, they are still able to celebrate their traditional festivals on campus.
A Global Festival
Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration each year for Chinese people. Families get together and celebrate by eating dumplings and watching the annual Spring Festival Gala. It always falls on the last day of the year in Chinese lunar calendar which will be February18 this year. To Chinese students and faculty, the Spring Festival is more than getting together with family and friends.
Zhaungyi Liu, a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, started his teaching career at UMD in 1989. He has celebrated 25 Spring Festivals at UMD and is looking forward to this year’s event.
“I meet new people at the Spring Festival party every year, ” said Prof. Liu, “It is interesting to see what people from other cultures think about our traditional performances, food and customs.” The Chinese Scholar and Student Association (CSSA) is hosting the event in the Kirby Student Center. As one of the biggest student organizations on campus, CSSA aims at helping Chinese students adapt to American life and promoting Chinese culture campus-wide by holding events like Spring Festival.
Dehua Liu, the president of CSSA said,“Thirty percent of our guests are friends from all over the world. It is no longer our own holiday, it is a global festival.”
Travel Without Traveling
Although Emily Goranson has already graduated from UMD, she is still planning to come back for the 2015 Chinese Spring Festival. She said becoming friends with international students was one of the best parts of her college experience.
“The best way to know a culture is to talk to people from that culture,” said Goranson. “I learned a lot about their countries by listening.”
Goranson thinks learning about a culture in a classroom isn't enough. “Watching a traditional Chinese dance performance is way better than studying it in textbooks.”
During the annual UMD Chinese Spring Festival, guests are able to appreciate traditional performances, Chinese food, and Chinese culture exhibitions. To Goranson, it is a great event. “It is funny to walk into a room where you are the only one that has no idea what is going on,” Goranson said. “It's like traveling without actual traveling.”
A Precious Experience
A successful Spring Festival usually takes a month of preparation. CSSA officers are in charge of most of the details, from renting room and equipment, sending invitations, making posters, and ordering food. Anna Gilmore, international student advisor from Office of Cultural Diversity, is impressed by how talented and independent our students are.
“Holding a big event that serves 300 people is not an easy thing,” said Gilmore. “They received a precious leadership experience while showing people their cultures.”
The 2015 UMD Chinese Spring Festival, which will celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Sheep, will start at 6 p.m. in the Kirby Ballroom on Saturday, Feb. 21. For information contact: Dehua Liu, firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-576-2340.
|2013: UMD students perform the tradition Fan Dance. The dance was performed over 4,000 years ago.||2013: UMD students join the Chinese language class to perform the Chinese song “Friends.”|
|2014: A Chinese student performs a traditional Cucurbit flute.||2014: Chinese students and UMD professor Rob Wittig demonstrate Tai Chi.|
Podcast and story by Jiaxun Fan, February, 2015.
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