Chinese New Year celebration rings in year of the dragon

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McCain Auditorium hosted its second Chinese New Year celebration, sponsored by the Chinese Student and Scholars Association, on Tuesday. After years of celebrating the event in the K-State Student Union, it was moved this year to a venue that could accommodate the typically massive turnout.

Known as the biggest celebration in China, the year of the rabbit ended on Jan. 23 and the year of the dragon, considered the most favored of the 12 zodiac signs, began. The new year celebration will continue until Jan. 29.

Xiyang Niu, president of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association and senior in journalism and mass communications, said the goal was simply to provide an event where people could come together, celebrate tradition and raise awareness.

The group, which is currently more than 100 strong and growing, aims to connect students with their peers and professors and help increase the knowledge of Americans by making them more culturally aware. Niu said because this year’s event was only two weeks after winter break, it was a challenge to put the show together because many performers had to practice on their own time to make the show a success.

According to Niu, Chinese students want to be in an environment where they are not competing with others but coming together as one.

“I know that so many Americans want to learn about different cultures, we need to open our hearts to them,” Niu said. “No matter where we come from, we don’t have to be shy because here at Kansas State, we have the feeling of being at home.”

The night kicked off with a full house filled with both American and Chinese audience members, students, faculty and families. The stage was set with lights, music and costumes grand enough to match the cultural significance of the event.

As the event’s master of ceremonies explained, the Chinese New Year is a time for family and friends to celebrate new beginnings and reflect on the past, dream for the future and create a vision for the life that they wish to live.

The event featured a wide variety of performances, ranging from traditional piano and violin ballads and dances representing past times of war and cultural divide, to contemporary songs and break dancing inspired by Shanghai night life and the influence of the younger generation.

The celebration was mostly in Chinese, with a few translations, so when a comedy skit was performed entirely in Chinese, audience members were encouraged to laugh “even if you can’t understand the language.”

Audience member Nina Chilen, sophomore in marketing, had never been to the event before and assumed it would be catered toward American students. She said she was not prepared to represent the minority of the crowd.

International students were not the only ones invited to perform at the celebration. K-State’s a capella group Cadence and the Chinese 2 class also made an appearance.

Reagan Hart, Chinese 2 student and sophomore in apparel marketing, sang a song to celebrate a happy Chinese New Year with her class. She plans on minoring in Chinese because she said she believes it is an important skill to have in today’s business world.

“I found the language to be more complex than the Spanish I studied in high school,” Hart said. “The vocabulary is much more challenging and I was very nervous I would mispronounce something during the performance.”

The class also focus on cultural aspects, and once a week, students meet with native speakers to practice their skills.

“They are so supportive of us as we speak with them, and they really get excited about what we are doing or if we pronounce something correctly,” Hart said. “Chinese students make up a huge part of our campus and we should be accepting of their culture.”

Overall, Niu believed the night was a success and said he hopes the event will continue long after he is president.

“After sitting through the show as an American student, I can appreciate the discomfort international students must feel because I felt out of place listening to a program for a few hours while they are in a foreign environment on a daily basis,” Chilen said. “I came tonight because I think everyone has a responsibility to expose themselves to other cultures.”

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