Alyssa Mursch/The Beacon
Chinese New Year, celebrated on Jan. 28, is the most important holiday celebration in China. For the 18 Chinese visa students on Wilkes campus, they make the holiday the best they can while away from their families.
The holiday is based off an old story of a demon, Nian, who would come to people’s homes once a year and eat all the livestock and children. The people were scared and a god told them to use firecrackers and the color red to scare off Nian. In Chinese, the word for New Years is Guo Nian, literally translated to “overcome Nian.”
The Chinese New Year is traditionally a time for families to gather together. The holiday is celebrated as a way to chase away bad luck and spirits and welcome good luck and fortune.
Sophomore Mingzhu Yue, president of the Wilkes University Asian Cultural Society, usually celebrates the New Year in a traditional way with her family. Yue celebrates in the same way that most people from middle and northern China celebrate.
There is a great deal of preparation that goes into celebrating the New Year. A few days before New Year’s Eve, Yue’s family cleans the house from top to bottom and prepares the food.
“The most important meal is dumplings,” stated Yue. The traditional way of preparing dumplings is to cook them in boiling water and serve with vinegar and sesame sauce. The whole family partakes in making the dumplings together.
The Wilkes University Asian Cultural Society usually hosts a Chinese New Year celebration with singing, dancing, entertainment and food for the whole campus to enjoy.
Even though the Wilkes Chinese New Year celebration may not be how the students are used to celebrating, they try to make the best of it by contributing to the planning of the campus celebration.
“The main part of New Year is Chinese family. So no matter what we do, we can’t change this fact. But we could regard our friends as family, that’s the only thing we can do,” stated sophomore Yuchen Xie. “And the more people that participate in this celebration, more easier to plan the whole thing.”
Associate Director Gina M. Petrucelli, who serves as the International Admissions and faculty adviser of the Asian Cultural Society, understands the disconnect between American students and Chinese students. Petrucelli is working with student ambassadors and the community to encourage diversity and help get the word out about events like the Chinese New Year as well as helping Yue plan the New Year.
However, despite the effort put forth by the students, the Wilkes Chinese New Year celebration for Feb. 2 was canceled.
Yue confirmed one of the reasons the celebration was canceled was due to lack of enthusiasm.
“I don’t think Wilkes students come, most of them are professors and their families,” stated Yue on the usual turnout of their campus celebration. The turnout is somewhat discouraging for the Chinese students. “Maybe if we get more help from the Chinese students, we will have it next year.”
The Asian Cultural Society also does not receive more money to celebrate the New Year due to its university status as a club. The members find that they have to budget where they can cut down on the amount of activities they can do to fund their New Year celebration. The students would rather focus their time on future events that the whole campus would enjoy.
Prior to a few years ago, the Center for Global Education and Diversity used to plan the Chinese New Year.
“We always want to push these activities into the hands of the students, it makes the events more authentic,” said Georgia Costalas, executive director of the Center for Global Education and Diversity at Wilkes University, on the reassignment of event responsibility.
The members of the Asian Cultural Society believe that the school should help them in bringing awareness to the importance of the event.
“We are trying so hard, not just for us, but for everyone,” stated Zipeng Zhang, junior and vice president of the Asian Cultural Society.
Instead, the Chinese students focused their efforts into their own private banquet celebration on Jan. 28. They are hoping to change the style of campus celebration to that of a banquet for next year.
Keep watch for future events hosted by the Wilkes University Asian Cultural Society. The club also has a Facebook page @wuasianculturalsociety.