Event integrates old and new

Tran Ha

Although the Year of the Tiger doesn’t officially begin until Wednesday, more than 200 University students attended the fourth annual Chinese New Year celebration Friday night.
The event, which was organized by the Chinese American Student Association, took place in the Great Hall of Coffman Union. The two-hour program incorporated both traditional Chinese performances with original modern performances drawn on Western culture.
“There is no equivalent to (the Chinese New Year) in American culture,” said Chinese American Student Association President Mark Wong. “It’s like a combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.”
For University senior T.J. Nguyen, who has attended every campus Chinese New Year’s celebration since its inception in 1995, the event has become as much of a tradition as New Year’s itself.
“New Year’s is very special to me because it’s the time when people get together as a family,” Nguyen said.
The celebration was an opportunity to experience a different culture for students with little exposure to Chinese traditions.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I came here, but it’s been a really good time,” said Rob Kerr, a Carlson School of Management senior.
As a board member of La Raza Student Cultural Center, Jennifer Molina, a College of Human Ecology junior, said she likes to support the events the other cultural centers organize.
“We all go to each other’s events,” Molina said. “It helps us understand each other more and support each other and the hard work that we know everyone is doing.”
The event was intended to combine the new and the old of the Chinese culture.
For example, the association sponsored a runway fashion show that ran the gamut from traditional Chinese clothing to modern Chinese-American attire.
“We want to show that we’re not just Chinese anymore,” Wong said. “Most of the members of our group are Chinese-Americans who were either born here or have been raised here most of their lives.”
The Dragon Dance — a tradition of the Chinese New Year that is an essential part of every year’s celebration — highlighted the evening. The performance featured a playful interaction between a pink-faced, big-bellied, happy Buddha and a creature that looked like a combination of a dragon and a lion, all set to the beat of drums and cymbals.
“This is a great experience not just for Asian-Americans but also Americans and people from other communities,” said Maybo Wong, Chinese American Student Association vice president.