On Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, Asian Students in America (ASIA) hosted their typically annual Lunar New Year Event for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020. The event had been in the works since the end of Fall Term and culminated with lion dances, student a capella performances, dancing and singing and a full meal. ASIA board member Abby Quade ‘25 described the overarching goal of this event as to “bring the college community together to celebrate.”
Lunar New Year is an extremely important holiday for many Asian countries including, but not limited to, China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea. New year celebrations are typically characterized by abundances of food, gifts and money. In different cultures, the length of celebration varies, says ASIA board member Nectaree Thao ‘23: “Some are for a day, while others can go up to 15 days.” ASIA wanted to create a space for all who celebrate the Lunar New Year, and those who usually don’t, to have fun and enjoy each other’s company while ringing in the Year of the Rabbit.
As one of ASIA’s biggest events, there was lots to organize to ensure the celebration ran smoothly and was enjoyable for everyone who attended. ASIA board member Weiland Wang ‘23 described the planning that initially went into the event: “Our main focuses included reaching out to student performers, directing the performances/rehearsals, catering food for the event, obtaining supplies and working with Student Activities Organization (SAO) to make all this possible.” ASIA successfully arranged for students to sing, play instruments, compose and perform a rap and two K-pop dances. Tay Phuong Lions from Savage, Minnesota, also made an appearance. Thao noted, “They’ve been performing at Carleton’s Lunar New Year for a while now, and it felt great to bring them back since the pandemic did not allow us to host this event [for a while].” ASIA board member Abby Quade ‘25 added that “the lion dance interacted a lot with the audience, which brought an even higher degree of energy and excitement.”
ASIA initially planned for 200 people to attend the celebration, but over 350 people showed up. Thao was happily surprised to see this: “Seeing Carleton’s community show up for this amazing cultural event just showed the support that the community has for each other.” Although having over 150 more people attend was exciting, it proved to be stressful, as ASIA board members rushed around to make sure everyone was fed. Quade ‘25 said “[having so many attendees] was both stressful, but also rewarding. It was really nice to see people enjoying and taking an interest in the Lunar New Year, especially since we had put so much effort into organizing the event. That being said, there was a lot of last-minute running around trying to get more drinks and food to feed everyone, but we made it happen.”
To ASIA board members, club members and other students around campus, having a large Lunar New Year celebration is an important way to stay connected to their culture and family while away from college, as well as share it. Wang said, “It is important for us to host this big celebration because, in a way, it pays homage to everyone that couldn’t celebrate Lunar New Year with their families back home by creating a space for that to happen.”
Wang, Thao and Quade all expressed their thanks to SAO for helping make this event possible and look forward to hosting even more celebrations.
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